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Full text of "Frederick Delius: Memories of my Brother"

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FREDERICK DELIUS 



Digitized by the Internet Archive 

in 2012 with funding from 

Lyrasis Members and Sloan Foundation 



http://archive.org/details/frederickdeliusmOOclar 



All Rights Reserved 



First Published in 1935 




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Made in Great Britain. Printed by Sherratt & Hughes, 
at the St. Ann's Press, Manchester 



ILLUSTRATIONS 

Frederick Delius Frontispiece 

facing page 

Mr Julius Delius, Father of Frederick Delius 32 

Frederick Delius at the ages of 3 and 2 1 48 

Claremont, the birthplace of Delius 64 
The Old Roanoke Female College at Danville, Virginia 96 

Frederick Delius and his four younger Sisters i i 2 

Frederick Delius, aged 46 176 

Frederick Delius, aged 49 . 190 



PREFACE 

I have given this book the sub-title of " Memories of My 
Brother ". That was the original conception of my task. 
It was not until I had embarked upon it that I was 
stirred to a greater ambition — to write the Life of my 
brother. To do this it was essential that I should have access 
to his papers, but as soon as I touched upon this wider scheme 
I was faced with almost insurmountable obstacles. 

The thesis was put forward that no Life of my brother 
should be written — that the only concern the world had with 
him was his music. This attitude, which would sound the 
death knell of all biography, was supported by threats. Those 
to whom the copyright of my brother's papers belonged, for 
what seemed to them good and sufficient reasons, refused me 
the privilege of referring to them and went so far as to de- 
clare that steps would be taken to prevent the production of 
the book. 

I have been approached indirectly by literary agents, 
asking me for interviews at their offices, where I should 
hear of " something to my advantage ". Persons with 
whom I have no acquaintance, have written to my brother- 
in-law, who has helped me with my task, suggesting that 
he should see them and " talk the matter over ". I have 
declined these interviews, and have taken no notice of the 
threats. 

If a sister may not write her memories of a dearly loved 
brother — and I have fallen back upon this, my original con- 
ception of the work — who may? I do not present these pages 



FREDERICK DELIUS 

that follow as in any way a complete biography. They cer- 
tainly tell the story of my brother's life, but some parts of 
that life are accentuated, while others, I am aware, are dealt 
with very sketchily. I have made no attempt to estimate his 
music, for, recognising that I have no qualifications for such 
a task, I have felt this would be both ridiculous and imper- 
tinent. When I talk of him as a " great composer ", or when 
I refer to " his genius ", I am writing as a sister who loved 
him, and not as a music expert. 

There are portions of his life, having most important re- 
actions upon his character, with which I am more competent 
to deal than anybody else. No one but myself or his sisters, 
who have not undertaken the task, could describe his home 
life in Bradford, and the very curious menage which was pre- 
sided over by my father. I have in these pages tried to sketch 
the strange character of my father, who played such an 
important part in my brother's career. I have endeavoured to 
tell the truth without taking sides, and I leave it to my readers 
to decide whether I have succeeded or not. 

I must take advantage of this preface to tell why, in the face 
of so much opposition, I have written these memories. The 
story may sound fantastic, but it happens to be true. 

The hamlet of Weston stands remote from the noisier 
activities of the West Riding on the north bank of the river 
Wharfe. It is about three miles from Otley and some four or 
five from Ilkley. Tucked away with its ancient hall, where 
Marvell, the poet, once dreamed his " green thoughts in a 
green shade ", its old Domesday church, its tithe-barn and 
stocks, it is one of the hidden gems of the countryside. In 
spite of its smallness it has been a separate ecclesiastical 
parish since before the days of William the Conqueror. 
Here, on the night of January 30th, 1934, the Reverend 

8 



FREDERICK DELIUS 

Charles L. Tweedale, vicar of Weston, had a curious psychi- 
cal experience. I will tell what happened in his own words, as 
it was published in the local papers. Mr. Tweedale, I should 
explain, is a spiritualist. 

" I was just composing myself to sleep, my wife was fast 
asleep by my side, when I heard her uttering little incoherent 
gasping sounds in her sleep. This continued for two or three 
minutes. Then suddenly she began to sing in a loud, strong, 
clear man's voice : 

' When the winds sing low, low, low, 
When soft breezes blow, blow, blow, 
Then I come for Delius go.' 

" The last line was absolutely shouted in a most astonishing 
and impressive manner. I at once rose and wrote down what 
I could remember of the words, and the first thing next 
morning I wrote down the tune to which they were sung, 
which, true I had never heard before, but which I remem- 
bered very clearly. 

" My wife continued in deep heavy sleep, and I did not 
awaken her. She said in the morning that she had slept all 
night. At breakfast I waited to see if my daughter, Dorothy, 
had heard anything of this, as she sleeps in the room above, 
and meanwhile I did not inform my wife or any one as to 
what had happened. 

" During breakfast Dorothy said, ' Was mother entranced 
during the night? I heard another voice, not yours, shortly 
after you came to bed — I then saw a brownish-red light which 
flamed out against the wardrobe like a big moon (the window 
curtains were drawn), and died down again.' 

" Before I could answer, my daughter Marjorie chimed in, 
saying, ' In the night I heard the small piano in my bedroom 
sound two notes loudly and it frightened me.' 



FREDERICK DELIUS 

" Astonished at this recital and this wonderful experience, 
I said we would sit after breakfast, and we did so. 

" Our wonderful spirit communicator C — , who departed 
this life eighty-five years ago, came and said that it was he 
who had entranced my wife and sung the verse. He said that 
I had not got it quite right, and this was what he tried to 
make her sing : 

When the winds sing soft and low, 
When the breezes blow, blow, blow 
Then we come for Delius, too, 
Who has other work to do. 

" C — said that this portended Delius's passing, that the 
red-brown light seen by Dorothy in her room was Delius's 
aura, and that he, C — , had sounded the notes on the piano in 
Marjorie's room. I asked if I should tell Delius's sister. C — 
replied, ' Yes, for evidence/ " 

" The same day, January 31st, 1934, 1 wrote the account of 
this to the editor of the Wharfedale Observer, Otley, and 
have his acknowledgment of the receipt of it, dated February 
5th, 1934, saying that the account had been filed for reference. 
I also sent the account of this wonderful experience to Mrs. 
Black (this is my married name), of White Gates, Idle, who 
is the sister of Delius, and have her letter dated February 
1st, 1934, acknowledging the receipt, saying, ■ I am quite pre- 
pared to testify to this if necessary/ 

" Here is what has often been asked for by unbelievers, a 
perfectly clear forecast, four months ahead of a coming event, 
witnessed and evidenced beyond the possibility of denial, 
clearly proving the incursion of the Spirit world into our 
mundane affairs and announcing the passing of a famous 
man from this world to the next." 

I do not ask the sceptical to accept Mr. Tweedale's con- 

10 



FREDERICK DELIUS 

elusion. They could argue, and argue quite reasonably, that 
my brother, then in his seventy-third year, and suffering as 
he had been suffering for years, could not in the nature of 
things long survive — that the forecast of the time of his 
death was distinctly vague. I repeat the account, which 
attracted much attention at the time, because it was a preface 
to what happened afterwards which induced me to write this 
book of memories. 

I had several subsequent communications from the Vicar 
of Weston, who declared that he had been urged at a suc- 
cession of seances to induce me to write Fred's life. I 
resisted the temptation for several weeks, but the demands 
became so persistent that I at last consented. 

In the composition of these memories I owe a great debt of 
gratitude to various persons, many of whom, before I began 
my task, were complete strangers to me. If by some mis- 
chance I should have missed this opportunity of acknowledg- 
ing my indebtedness to any of them, I hope they will forgive 
me. 

I desire to mention with particular gratitude the help 
given me by Mr. N. L. Fleming, J.P., the Town Clerk of 
Bradford; Mr. Sucksmith, formerly one of my father's man- 
agers; Sir Francis Watson, J.P., and Sir Fred Moore, both 
boyhood friends of my brother's; my sister, Mrs. Theodora 
Hudson; Captain Brown, J.P., ex-Lord Mayor of Bradford; 
Alderman Walker, J.P., the ex-Lord Mayor who went to Grez 
to take the Freedom of Bradford; my cousin, Miss Elsa 
Kroenig of Manchester; Mr. Charles Douglas; Mr. Lewis 
Day of Chicago, who scoured Florida for me and covered 
thousands of miles to get me particulars of Solano Grove, 
and Mr. Gerard Tetley, formerly of Leeds and now, for many 
years, a resident in Virginia. Finally I should like to express 



1 1 



FREDERICK DELIUS 



grateful acknowledgments to my daughter, Margaret Vessey, 
who has proved such a devoted assistant, and to my brother- 
in-law, Ladbroke Black, who has acted as my pilot through 
these unfamiliar shoals of literary compilation. 

Clare Delius 



12 



CHAPTER I 

In that era of vast accumulation, which followed the 
employment of power-driven machinery, the West Riding 
of Yorkshire provided an excellent illustration, between 
the years 1 862 and 1 880, of the ' progress ' of man under the 
urge of unrestricted private enterprise. The Luddites were 
a sullen memory. The last of the Bronte sisters had passed 
away in the wild moorland village of Haworth, and no 
romantic writers of any importance concerned themselves 
further with the strange, volcanic, undirected life which was 
turning such vast portions of the Dales into ugly industrial 
plague spots. 

It was so easy to make money, given the necessary capital 
or credit. England was the manufacturing centre of the 
world, and the West Riding of Yorkshire shared with Lan- 
cashire the honour of being its capital. Wool — its spinning 
and its weaving — was pouring a spate of gold through those 
valleys where the ancient inhabitants of the land had so 
successfully resisted the arms of Rome, and the penetrations 
of the Saxons and Danes. Under the Magic Wand of Free 
Trade vast fortunes were made, and the fact that the poor 
man of to-day might be, and often was, the millionaire of 
to-morrow, seemed to justify everything that Dr. Samuel 
Smiles had written about Self Help. The McKinley tariffs, 
which were to deal the first shattering blow at the domination 
of the West Riding in the world market of manufactured 
woollen goods, were still hidden in the womb of time, and 
nobody visualised the tragedy of economic nationalism. 

13 



FREDERICK DELIUS 

It was a very material world, relieved by occasional, and, in 
in some cases, notable experiments in what may be called 
sentimental humanitarianism. In the valley of Wharfedale 
Mr. W. E. Forster, a member of a Quaker family, had started 
a wool factory with Mr. William Fison as his partner. True 
to the traditions of his religious sect, believing that the king- 
dom of God is in the heart of man, and that ignorance must 
hamper the proper diffusion of that light, he set himself, as 
one of the members for Bradford, to produce the First Edu- 
cation Act. Having thrown that bomb-shell from his quiet 
house by the side of the Wharfe, where he lived with his wife, 
the daughter of Dr. Arnold of Rugby, into the body politic, 
in which it was to have unforseen consequences, he became 
lost in the quagmire of Irish dissensions and retired into the 
pages of history, not as the kindly, courageous Quaker, who 
for good or ill had made a notable contribution to ' progress ', 
but as ' Buckshot ' Forster. 

But these were hardly marked divergencies from the real 
business of the West Riding, or if marked, inclined to be 
resented. If the State could compel the poor children to 
attend school, there was no knowing where the movement 
might stop. It was a side blow at the sacred principle of 
private enterprise, on which the wealth and importance of 
the West Riding had been built up. To make money, and to 
lend that money so accumulated that men in every part of 
the world might labour to pay you interest, was as divine a 
principle as any that had appeared in the Bible. To get 
rich by your own endeavours, to push forward ruthlessly, to 
grab something from that stream of gold, whose flow no 
one ever dreamed would cease — that was the guiding rule of 
the West Riding between 1862 and 1880. 

There were slumps, of course — occasional setbacks. The 



FREDERICK DELIUS 

civil war in America, which had created a cotton famine in 
Lancashire, had also not been without its effect upon the 
trade of the West Riding. But for the most part everything 
boomed, and all over Bradford mill chimneys rose, like aspir- 
ing pine trees in a spinney, and in order not to waste any- 
thing, not even air or land, or space upon which a factory 
might be built — didn't wilful waste make woeful want? — the 
workmen and their families were crowded in back-to-back 
houses, which can still be seen in Bradford as monuments of 
that Golden Age. 

Money was made so easily in Bradford that inevitably that 
Tom Tiddler's ground began to attract the attention of 
astute and ambitious persons beyond the shores of England. 
In the business of the manufacture of woollen articles no 
European country could compete with England, and no con- 
tinental manufacturing centre with the West Riding of 
Yorkshire. Under the impulse of the discovery that money 
could be made out of wool, a certain German gentleman in 
the year 1850 settled in Bradford. He became naturalised, 
and in 1855 took to himself a wife from his native land. His 
business was to buy and sell wool, and the fact that he had 
brought with him some engaging qualities of his national 
culture — a love of music among them — did not deflect him 
from the main object of his emigration. He was in Bradford, 
and in exile, not for his health as the phrase is, but to make 
money out of wool. Dominant by nature, pursuing this main 
idea with German thoroughness, he prospered exceedingly. 

After the atmosphere of the German town in which he 
had been reared, with its surface amenities and its Byzantine 
rules of caste, life in Bradford must have seemed very crude. 
The ordinary people were blunt and plain spoken; simple, 
kindly and hospitable, with difficulty deflected from their 

15 



FREDERICK DELIUS 

loyalties, but often seemingly very rude. To someone brought 
up with all the German prejudices of caste, the experience 
must have been trying. Only in one feature of the social life 
in Bradford did this German emigrant, Mr. Julius Delius, 
find any glimpse of the culture to which he was accustomed. 
Undirected and uneducated though their taste might be, the 
people of Bradford had a real love for music. 

Long before Sir Henry Wood, with the magic of his baton, 
was to create, through the medium of the Queen's Hall, a 
real taste in music among Londoners, and to demonstrate to 
the world the truth of what seemed an amazing thesis, that 
concerts of classical music could be made to pay, Charles 
Halle — not yet Sir Charles — had made an immense success 
with his orchestra in which his wife, the famous violinist, 
Madame Norman Neruda, took her part, in Bradford. 
Organised sport, with its possibilities of immense profits from 
gate money, had not yet been evolved. Rugby football was in 
its infancy, association football was scarcely known. Cricket 
was played, but it had not yet been elaborated into the 
pageant it is to-day. In the towns and villages of the West 
Riding, the main relaxation of the people was music. A 
concert, however poor the talent, was a never-failing draw. 
There was a remarkable development, too, in the growth of 
local bands, some of which were to become famous through- 
out the world in years to come. It was perhaps the only 
feature of life in Bradford with which Mr. Delius, pledged 
to the propagation of wealth by the purchase and sale of 
wool from Australia, found any sympathy. Though he did 
not know a note of music himself, he could, curiously enough, 
play anything by ear, and from the first inauguration of the 
Halle concerts, he was a member of the Committee of 
Management. 

16 



FREDERICK DELIUS 

Genealogists have been at pains to trace the family of 
Delius to its most remote origins. The name being Latin in 
its form, some of them have claimed, rightly or wrongly, 
obviously indulging themselves in flights of imagination 
when they found themselves faced by a gap of years barren 
of all records, that the family is descended from the Roman 
general Caius Delius, who took as his wife Julius Caesar's 
sister. But while the theories of genealogists may be justly 
laughed at, there remains one curious circumstance which 
might be put forward in support of this extravagant theory. 
The profile of the subject of this memoir was an almost exact 
replica of that of the great Roman dictator. 

It has been stated in some of the biographies of my 
brother that the family came from Holland, and that we were 
derived from a Jewish stock. Like my brother, I am quite 
free from any anti-Semitic prejudices, and it is merely on the 
question of fact that I have to disclaim any connection with 
that great race, which has contributed to the world so many 
masters in the arts. Deliuses are to be found in almost every 
country in Europe — Italy, Spain, Austria, France — but I my- 
self have never come across one in Holland, to which it has 
been stated we belong. Many of our ancestors were in the 
Church, and Gualter Delius in the sixteenth century was a 
friend of Philip Melanchthon, and accompanied him to Eng- 
land. 

The more immediate records of the family may be 
mentioned. My grandfather was Ernest Wilhelm Frederick 
Delius. He served under Blucher in the Battle of Ligny, 
which was fought two days before Waterloo. He was shot 
through the neck, taken prisoner on the field, and afterwards 
exchanged. The repeater watch he was wearing when he was 
wounded is one of my most cherished possessions. The glass 

b 17 



FREDERICK DELIUS 

is broken, the dial scorched and the hands, which were 
stopped by the shock of the bullet, show that he received his 
wound precisely at seven minutes to seven. I have often 
heard my father, repeating what he had heard from his 
father, say that Bliicher was so badly wounded at Ligny that 
he led his army to the field of Waterloo tied on to his horse, 
which he was unable to sit unaided. In recognition of what 
he had done and suffered in the cause of that European 
peace, which has never yet been attained, my grandfather was 
given for life the post of Stadtdirecktor of Bielefeld in West- 
phalia, now the chief centre of the Prussian linen industry, 
but then a typical German town of the early nineteenth cen- 
tury. He died at the age of forty-one, having won the esteem 
and gratitude of the citizens of Bielefeld, and a monument 
was erected to his memory. 

Though the theory of inherited characteristics can be 
carried too far, it may be of interest to mention that my 
grandfather was very musical, and had the circumstances of 
the time permitted would have taken up a musical career. 
He entered the legal profession, but the wound he received at 
Ligny so affected his voice that it was impossible for him to 
practice in the Courts. 

He left three sons, one of whom, Julius, was my father, all 
of whose early memories, about which he loved to talk when 
he was finally settled in exile in Bradford, were of Bielefeld. 
He used to speak of the exciting time he and his two brothers 
had when foreign celebrities had to be entertained by their 
parents, of the fun they had trying to filch tit-bits off the 
dishes as the servants were carrying them into the dining- 
room, and how on one occasion — a golden memory this! — 
they licked most of the contents of a tray of ices before they 
were handed round to the unsuspecting guests. As children 

18 



FREDERICK DELIUS 

have a knack of revolting from the imposed conditions of 
their childhood — I have never met the daughter of a militant 
suffragette of twenty-four years ago, who wasn't a feminist in 
the Victorian sense — it is possible that the easy going, un- 
disciplined home life my father enjoyed made him the very 
severe martinet he was in after years. 

My mother was Fraulein Elise Pauline Kroenig, also of 
Bielefeld. The Kroenig and the Delius family had inter- 
married frequently. Christian Kroenig, father of Elise, was 
considered one of the handsomest men of his time, and I 
have in my possession a very fine pencil drawing by Sichel of 
him in later life. Crivelli, the celebrated singer, afterwards 
Vicomtess de Vigier, was his niece. I mention these other- 
wise unimportant details merely to illustrate the fact that the 
musical strain was very strong in the family. 

On his migration to the unfamiliar atmosphere of Brad- 
ford, Julius settled down to his business of wool merchant, 
making a considerable fortune. By 1880, which was the year 
in which my brother Frederick was forced to follow in his 
footsteps, he was a wealthy man. Immensely charitable, he 
was one of the founders of the Bradford Children's Hospital, 
in which he took the greatest interest until the day of his 
death in 1901. 

Claremont, where he made his home, is a private thorough- 
fare off Horton Road, its privacy being accounted of so much 
importance that for many years now the public have been 
denied access to it. When I was a child the mill hands were 
allowed to pass through on their way to work, and one of my 
earliest recollections is the sound their clogs made. For many 
years the residents were content to maintain their rights as 
against the public by closing the gates once a year, but on 
account of the alleged damage done to the gardens, especially 

19 



FREDERICK DELIUS 

my father's garden, the privilege of using the avenue was 
finally withdrawn. 

Our house — No. 1-3— was a large, solid building, consist- 
ing in reality of two houses converted into one, and was 
covered with Virginia creeper. The original front door of the 
first house was converted into a conservatory, which led into 
a very fine room, which was used as a music room. Here the 
musical evenings, to which my father was devoted as a 
recreation — wool occupying his more serious moments — were 
held. Its chief feature was a Broadwood grand, which I be- 
lieve was the first grand ever seen in Bradford. We children, 
Fred included, had to be content with an Erard upright in 
the schoolroom. 

Owing to the amalgamation of the two houses, all the 
reception rooms, of which there were five, were exceptionally 
spacious. It was necessary to have a large dining-room as, 
apart from dinner parties, on Christmas day the entire Delius 
family gathered round the dining table. There were often 
sixteen of us, though it did not often happen that we were all 
at home at the same time, except at the annual domestic 
festival. 

The family comprised ten girls and four boys. It was the 
age of unrestricted childbirth, and there would have been 
fourteen to surround the table had not two died in infancy. 
The family consisted of Ernest, Elise, Minnie, Frederick — 
the subject of this biography — Rose, Max, Clare, Willy, 
Lucy — these last two died in infancy — Marguerita, Hedwig, 
Lily, Theodora and Elfreda. 

As a family we were extraordinarily healthy. Beyond one 
or two childish ailments, I do not remember any of us having 
even a cold, and not one of us ever had to visit a dentist, in 
which latter peculiarity we resembled our father who, dying 

20 



FREDERICK DELIUS 

at nearly eighty, had every tooth perfect in his head. I shall 
have presently to give a picture of my father in order to 
sketch in the background of my brother's early days — to 
show the difficulties under which his genius had to grow, 
blossom and bear fruit — but I may mention here, in dealing 
with the health of the family, that I attribute it to my father's 
iron rule that we must moderate our appetites. He himself, 
though a great epicure, ate very sparsely, and we had to follow 
his example to the lasting benefit of our digestions. Fritz, 
it was true, was delicate as a baby, but entirely outgrew his 
infantile weaknesses and became a fine athlete. It has always 
been a mystery to the family how in these circumstances he 
succumbed to the tragic malady which darkened the last nine 
years of his life. I am inclined to ascribe it to his reckless 
expenditure of energy, which has always been a character- 
istic of our family, for Fritz, whether working or playing, 
found it very difficult to be moderate. 

And now I must attempt the difficult task for a daughter 
of giving a sketch of my father, who, from the best motives, 
I am convinced, and from what he considered his son's truest 
interests, almost succeeded in wrecking my brother's career 
and robbing the world of the fruits of his musical genius. 

He was essentially German, and he had imbibed from 
childhood all the traditions of that race. To most English 
people Hitler, with his ideas of a state discipline embracing 
the most intimate details of one's private life, seems incom- 
prehensible, but I, who knew my father, do not find it so 
difficult to comprehend, without having any sympathy 
for,jhe ideals to which the Germans have submitted. For 
what Hitler is to Germany to-day, so my father was to our 
family. 

He was a remote being, an iron disciplinarian, masking 

21 



FREDERICK DELIUS 

the affection I am convinced he bore towards us with an air 
of severity which never varied. His lightest word was law. 
To us he was Jehovah, and when he spoke we always in 
imagination heard the thunders of Sinai and trembled. In 
these days when the relations between a father and his 
children are so very different, when the modern parent tries 
to be the friend and companion — sometimes rather patheti- 
cally — of his sons and daughters— our home life seems 
fantastic. The guiding influence of our child life was fear — 
fear of our father ! 

Looking back now I do not think that my father imposed 
this iron discipline in his home from any desire to play the 
tyrant. Had the motive been purely tyrannical — the desire 
of a weak man with an inferiority complex to assert himself 
— he must have had little sense of responsibility. But the 
reverse was the case. I have had an opportunity of inspecting 
the domestic accounts which he kept with such German 
thoroughness. They show that he spent the enormous sum 
of thirty-seven thousand pounds on the education of his 
children. We were all sent abroad to learn languages and 
were given the best instructors that were obtainable. I ques- 
tion whether there was any adequate return for the ex- 
penditure of this enormous sum of money, but it does show 
what I am concerned to prove, that my father, according to 
his lights, desired to do his very best for us, and beneath 
his mask of remoteness and severity cherished an abiding 
affection for us all. 

In Bradford the terror in which we lived of our father 
was common knowledge. When we and our governess were 
out, shopkeepers would often rush from their premises to 
whisper to the governess, " You'd better bring the young 
ladies in here, miss. Mr. Delius is coming. ,, As a result of 



22 



FREDERICK DELIUS 

that timely warning we all scuttled into the shop and hid in 
ambush there until papa passed by. 

My mother went abroad every year, and during her 
absence we were left in charge of two governesses. When 
we met papa in the street we all had to halt to attention, so 
that he could inspect our shoes. If our heels were not 
straight, or if they were the slightest bit worn, we were sent 
at once to the bootmakers for new shoes. The discovery of 
a worn down heel — it need only be slightly worn — unloosed 
the flood gates of his wrath — sometimes a trying ordeal in 
a public street. When our mother came home from abroad 
she invariably found rows upon rows of new shoes in the boot 
room, and having a more practical mind as regards soleing 
and heeling, she was often outraged at this glut of footwear. 

Another unpardonable sartorial sin in his eyes was the 
wearing of clothes which had anything about them which 
might be described remotely as striking or loud. In this re- 
spect his taste was Puritan. Here is an anecdote which may 
help to give a picture of him. 

Two of my sisters were to accompany him to London to 
meet our uncle Theodore, who, in contradistinction to my 
father, his brother, who insisted that his clothes should be 
comfortable, dressed like a dandy, and was suspected by the 
family of wearing stays. The carriage was at the door, and 
my sisters came down in dark blue dresses with some slight 
gold embroidery on the collars and cuffs. I, watching their 
departure, thought they looked lovely, but the effect of their 
costumes on my father was catastrophic. He was furious. 
Nothing, he said, would induce him to travel with two girls 
looking like actresses! There and then he ordered their 
boxes to be unloaded and drove off without them. 

Except when he was playing the patriarch, his manners 

23 



FREDERICK DELIUS 

were distinguished by an almost extravagant courtliness. He 
always addressed my mother as ' madam \ This seemed 
quite natural to me as a child, and I was considerably sur- 
prised later on to hear husbands addressing their wives as 
' old bean ' and ' old girl \ So strong are the acquired habits 
of youth that I still feel qualms of astonishment at what I 
may call the atmosphere of ' mateyness ' of to-day. But these 
almost Byzantine manners only served to enhance his re- 
moteness, so that later on when he became ill, we were all 
too afraid to try and cheer him up, knowing that our efforts 
would have been sternly snubbed. Long after I was 
married and had a family of my own, I never could address 
him without fear and trembling. Ridiculous as it may seem, 
my voice when I spoke to him always appeared to come out of 
my boots. 

He had the most beautiful hands I have ever seen, and he 
expected us to follow his example and try to keep ours per- 
fect in point of manicure and cleanliness. Whenever we 
came into the dining-room we had to put our hands on the 
table for his inspection, and woe betide any of us who had 
omitted any of the ritual upon which he insisted. I can recall 
now the scathing lectures he would give us, pointing out 
how later on people would say the most humiliating things 
about our ' awful ' hands unless we mended our ways. If we 
were caught biting our nails, the thunderbolts of Jove fell 
about us like a barrage. I can recall my brother, Max, once 
trying to deceive my father into thinking his hands were 
clean, by putting his clenched fists on the table. It was the 
triumph of optimism over experience. The barked out order, 
" Spread out your hands, sir," disclosed the sad fact, which 
Max desired to conceal, that he had hurriedly washed the 
backs of his hands only. ' Colonel Adair ' in Helen Mather's 

24 



FREDERICK DELIUS 

Comin' thro' the Rye, was almost an exact counterpart of 
my father. I remember that when we read the book in the 
schoolroom we all thought that Helen Mather must have 
known papa. 

My father, whose health was extraordinary and who had 
never known a day's illness, once went down with a stiff neck. 
Our home was instantly in a turmoil. He was in bed a week, 
and had a pulley arrangement erected over his pillows so that 
he could raise himself when necessary without putting any 
strain upon the painful muscles of his neck. Not one single 
soul in our establishment would have dared to try to lift him : 
we would much sooner have handled a charge of dynamite. 
To relieve the monotony of these long hours of enforced 
and unfamiliar resting, we children, all small then, had to 
read to him in turns. To my lot fell the leading article in 
The Times. It was a terrible ordeal, and I made a sad hash 
of the long words, which produced lightning flashes from 
the bed, followed invariably by a gloomy talk on the short- 
ness of life, and how man is like the grass, which in the 
morning is green and growing up, but in the evening is cut 
down, dried up and withered. I was tragically impressed. 
It was perhaps fortunate that my father's health was so good, 
seeing that a mere stiff neck could produce such commotion. 
I may add that he lived for forty years after I had read him 
the last of those Times leaders ! 

Once on April ist Fred challenged me to make papa 
an April fool, and I, greatly daring — in the schoolroom! — 
accepted the challenge. I went down into the morning room 
where he was sitting, and screwing up my courage to the 
sticking point, said in a voice husky with fright, " Papa, there 
is a fly on your tie." As he put up his hand to brush away 
the non-existent insect, I managed to get out the one word, 

*5 



FREDERICK DELIUS 

" April." But the rest was impossible. To say " fool " was be- 
yond me. And then to my surprise and delight papa looked 
round and laughed. The ordeal over, I sped upstairs and 
exultantly told Fred " There, I did it," only to have my state- 
ment received with incredulity. 

My father was very fond of horse exercise, and rode a great 
deal until, becoming very short sighted, he rode his horse into 
a wall, and found himself on the other side, minus the horse. 
He did not ride again for years, until he accompanied me on 
my first ride on a pony. As soon as we were old enough, we 
were all put upon unbroken ponies, with results which dif- 
fered according to the various temperaments of the members 
of the family. Fred, who was always very athletic, was a 
born rider. My brother Max, however, disliked horses, and 
had his own ideas about the amenities of riding. One day 
he went out, insisting on taking his umbrella with him, in 
spite of the groom's expostulations. In about twenty minutes' 
time, Max and his umbrella arrived home with no pony. It 
turned out that Max had put his umbrella up because it had 
begun to rain. The pony, who shied even at a piece of paper, 
had expressed her disgust by rearing up and flinging my 
brother and his umbrella to the ground, following this up by 
galloping off to the stables. On another occasion the same 
pony — her name was Black Bess — bolted with me. I was only 
five at the time, and the groom, who was rather stout, was 
unable to catch me up. There was a funeral passing at the 
time, and Black Bess only stopped when she found herself 
with her head poking into the rear of the hearse. It was this 
same pony that was very nearly the cause of Fred's death 
on Ilkley moors. My father insisted on the full sartorial ritual 
for these rides, and we went out in miniature top hats with a 
veil round them, riding astride in trim little habits. Though 

26 



FREDERICK DELIUS 

my father was perpetually warned that he would have his 
little girls brought home with their necks broken, our horse 
riding was never discontinued. 

With regard to the treatment of girls my father's views 
belonged to an age which seems very remote now. No 
daughter of his was ever allowed to be unchaperoned. When 
I was at school in Hanover I contracted catarrh of the throat 
through singing in the open air at a sledge party. My father, 
who went every year to Ems — I think the excuse was that he 
must sidetrack, prevention being better than cure, a recur- 
rance of that devastating stiff neck, though in reality he went 
to meet his old friends — sent for me, in order that I might 
have my throat examined. While I was there, I was never 
allowed to be alone, or to make friends with anybody in the 
hotel. I had to sit with papa at the ' Stamm-Tisch ' with all 
the dear old gentlemen who met there every year, and who 
would very much have resented the intrusion of an outsider. 
One great friend of my father's, the Baron von Meding, the 
chamberlain of the Prince of Schaumburg-Lippe at Bucke- 
burg, assisted in the arduous task of chaperoning me 
whenever I went out, sharing with my father the responsi- 
bility of taking me to the Kurhaus for the baths and fetching 
me back again. The strain of this cure and convalescence, 
when I was never allowed to be at large except with some old 
gentleman in attendance, was relieved for me by the presence 
of Fred. He and I went some glorious walks together, and 
eventually my father took both of us for a trip up the Rhine. 
The only cloud on that holiday was, I remember, the strained 
relations between Fred and our father, to which I shall have 
to refer later. It was very much like living on the top of a 
volcano, which might erupt at any moment. I should like to 
emphasise here that my father, despite his severe exterior, had 

27 



FREDERICK DELIUS 

the kindest heart in the world, and no one ever appealed to 
him for help in vain, as many charities have good cause to 
remember. But it was his martinet methods, mistakenly 
applied to high spirited boys, which made things impossible, 
and inevitably engendered a feeling of resentment, which 
persisted through their lives. 

In spite of father's strictness, his love of all children was 
very deep, as is exemplified by his generous patronage of the 
children's hospital in Bradford, and in consequence my 
brothers, catching this charming trait from him, were always 
very sweet to their young sisters. 

I remember when Ernest, my eldest brother, was being 
initiated into the mysteries of business, which, like Fred, he 
also loathed, how he came into the schoolroom one day and 
unfolded what we thought was a wonderful plot. We were all 
to play truant from lessons, and Max and Fred were to bring 
their young sisters down to the warehouse, where it was 
arranged we were to meet in an enormous cellar, full of huge 
bales of wool, which looked to us like houses. There we were 
to have a thrilling game of ' tag ', which, so far as I can re- 
member, had something to do with hide-and-seek. The fun 
waxed fast and furious, but in our excitement we made too 
much noise. One of the managers came down, attracted by 
the uproar and finding us there sent immediately for two 
cabs. Into these the reluctant team was packed and sent 
home. But he was a sportsman, and never told my father, 
or the consequences might have been disastrous. 

Meanwhile the governess had been sitting in lonely state, 
waiting for her pupils, who never materialised. Presently the 
alarm was given, and the garden was searched. Anxiety was 
reaching boiling-over point when the two cabs filled with 
crestfallen young Deliuses rolled up. In spite of the fact 

28 



FREDERICK DELIUS 



that we were subjected to a close cross-examination by the 
frantic governess, we stubbornly refused to disclose where we 
had been, out of loyalty to Ernest, who would certainly have 
been on the carpet. 

My brother, Ernest, was an extremely handsome young 
man, tall and slim, with black hair, grey eyes, fine features 
and lovely teeth. He was also very musical, and played the 
'cello and piano entirely by ear. Every Christmas morning 
the boys roused us out of bed at half-past five, and with Fred 
with his violin and Ernest with his 'cello, and the rest of us 
piping up with our voices, we assembled at our parents' bed- 
room door to give a rendering of Christians, Awake. I 
don't know what the result really sounded like, but we all 
put our hearts and souls into it, and papa and mamma de- 
clared that it was lovely. 

Those Christmases at Claremont linger in my memory 
as golden episodes. Papa, martinet though he was, loved 
Christmas, and was in his element when he saw us all stand- 
ing enchanted before the tables of wonderful presents which 
we always got. It was our rule to club together to buy him a 
present. I remember one year that it was a walking stick with 
an ivory handle, with a corkscrew inside it, with which he 
professed to be delighted. He never used it, and it was put 
away in his dressing room. On another occasion we gave him 
a compendium knife. This, after expressing his gratification, 
he put away in a drawer and forgot all about. Fred later dis- 
covered it there and brought it into the schoolroom. There 
we sat in solemn conclave over it, and finally decided to give 
it to him again the next Christmas. This was done, and papa 
never recognised it ! 

My father, of whom I have endeavoured to give a picture, 
because he played such an important part in the life of my 

29 



FREDERICK DELIUS 

brother Frederick, would have afforded, I am convinced, 
some very interesting material for the student of psychology. 
For me there are two aspects of his life in particular which I 
find it difficult to explain. Why did he, who had been 
brought up in a more or less feudal atmosphere, who was 
steeped in a caste tradition diametrically opposed to those 
of the people with whom he came to live, go into the wool 
business? And how did it happen that he made such a suc- 
cess of an occupation so completely alien to his upbringing? 

I suppose the answer to the first question is a simple one — 
the urge to make money — though what accident of Fate 
drew him away from the heart of his native land to Bradford, 
I have never been able to discover. I am convinced that for 
the actual buying and selling of wool, he, who was intensely 
artistic, had a profound distaste, but having once embarked 
upon such a career, he subjected himself to the same iron 
discipline that he imposed upon others. Though he detested 
the trade which brought him so many material rewards, this 
fact did not make him sympathetic towards his sons, who one 
and all shared his intense dislike of the business of bartering 
wool. Indeed, it made him exactly the reverse, and I must 
presume that this lack of sympathy was arrived at by a series 
of mental processes which rendered it impossible for him to 
see why others should not be eager to swallow the same un- 
pleasant medicine which he had forced himself to take. But 
how he came to make a success of the business which he dis- 
liked is another matter. 

Mr. Sucksmith, one of my father's old managers, has given 
me a picture of him as a wool merchant, which I think I may 
reproduce here. He declared that while my father with Ger- 
man thoroughness made himself conversant with every detail 
of the business, he absolutely lacked the commercial instinct 

3° 



FREDERICK DELIUS 

to limit expenses. For example, all his travellers spent just 
what they liked on their commercial trips and were never 
called to account for the expenses so incurred. Any of his 
men staying away for illness, or reputed illness, or from any 
other cause, had their wages paid in full sometimes for 
months together. Inevitably this improvident kindness was 
grossly abused and as a result the amount of illness and the 
number of domestic tragedies which might form a reason 
for absence was phenomenal. The fact was that my father, 
whose word was literally his bond, who never gave a promise 
or an undertaking which he did not fulfil, who had an almost 
savage regard for the truth, could not believe that any of his 
fellow men would act otherwise. Every hard luck story, 
therefore, he accepted without question, and Mr. Sucksmith 
assures me that he must have given away thousands and 
thousands of pounds in this manner. 

Those who saw only the martinet — those who, like Fred, 
suffered in some measure from the iron domestic discipline 
he sought to impose — failed perhaps to detect the underlying 
tenderness and generosity of his nature. If after business 
hours when he was back home it suddenly occurred to him 
that some man, who in the street had appealed to him for 
charity, might be in real want, he would send the household 
flying in search of the man, and his tender conscience would 
not allow him to rest until he had relieved his necessities. 
One day he received an appealing letter from a widow, whose 
husband had been a friend of his. He gave her an allowance 
of five hundred a year till she died. 

He carried into his business his private fastidiousness. He 
hated untidiness or dirt of any kind, and unfortunately he 
had selected a branch of commerce in which both these 
things abound. In an attempt to remedy them, he con- 

3 1 



FREDERICK DELIUS 

structed a luxury warehouse with a staircase inlaid with 
ebony and with doors of mahogany, and he insisted on the 
premises being kept with the meticulous care that would be 
given to a private dwelling. One day he came into the office 
with a little dust on his fingers, and declared angrily, " This 
place is disgracefully dirty " — though in truth it was the most 
scrupulously clean warehouse in the whole of the city of 
Bradford! ' 

His fellow business men remained a mystery to him to his 
dying day, and this is perhaps not to be wondered at seeing 
that he was not only an alien in nationality, but an alien in 
tradition. He never understood them, and though he ad- 
mired their sterling qualities, he was always profoundly 
shocked by their lack of etiquette. To one brought up in the 
ceremonious atmosphere of a German town in the middle of 
last century, the rugged simplicity of his fellow traders, their 
disregard of form and manners, was anathema. I think my- 
self he always expected to see the subordination of the classes 
marked by some appropriate uniform, and he was shocked 
when this did not happen. He could not understand why a 
man who had made a great deal of money, owned vast 
properties, and employed thousands of men, should dress 
worse than some of his hands, and in Bradford this was often 
the case. 

One day he was coming home from London. In the first- 
class carriage in which he was travelling was an elderly man 
in the shabbiest of clothes. Presently this stranger leant for- 
ward, and without any apology began to finger my fathers 
overcoat. " What a beautiful overcoat that is ! " he ex- 
claimed. " How much did you pay for it? " My father, taken 
aback by this familiarity, told him sixteen pounds. " Oh, I 
should want three coats for that," the other grumbled. When 

3* 



:,€. 




MR. JULIUS DELIUS, FATHER OF FREDERICK DELIUS 



FREDERICK DELIUS 

he got back to Bradford he mentioned the incident to Mr. 
Sucksmith, saying that he could not imagine how a man, 
dressed like his companion had been, could afford to travel 
in a first-class carriage. After he had described the stranger, 
Mr. Sucksmith recognised him as one of the wealthiest wool 
merchants in the West Riding. Such habits were a source of 
perpetual surprise to my father ! 

He attempted to rule his business according to the military 
tradition in which he had been brought up, but though he 
was outwardly very severe and very strict, he was like Dr. 
Johnson's friend, who aspired to be a philosopher but always 
found cheerfulness breaking in. In his case it was generosity 
which made him believe every hard luck story that was told 
him. Outwardly, however, the warehouse, when he was on 
the premises, was a scene of disciplined human energy. But 
when he was away — he always spent a part of each day at 
his club — an instant change came over the scene. The sound 
of his foot on the stairs, however, was sufficient to bring 
everybody back to attention, and make them appear busy 
with a show of work. 

My mother, though not a martinet like my father, was in 
many respects his counterpart. People in Bradford can re- 
member her walking up Darley Street at the age of eighty- 
two, looking, with her slim, upright figure, like a girl of 
twenty. She took her first flight in an airplane when she was 
eighty-five, travelling abroad by that means of transport to 
take the waters. This started her keenness for flying, and she 
went twice a year until she was ninety-one, dying a month or 
two after her last return. She often said that she could not 
understand people going by train, if it was at all possible for 
them to get to their destination by air. On one occasion fly- 
ing conditions were so bad that all the passengers cancelled 

c 33 



FREDERICK DELIUS 

their journey except my mother and a girl of twenty. On 
her first trip they gave her some cotton wool to put in her 
ears, but the plane had scarcely started when my mother 
removed the stuffing and refused ever to use it again. Her 
pluck in travelling at her age was so much admired at her 
usual watering place that after her arrival on her last flight 
the mayor came with an enormous bouquet to offer his 
felicitations and congratulations. Though my mother hated 
publicity of any kind, she managed to acknowledge the 
presentation graciously, and make the necessary speech, but 
she told me afterwards that she disliked the experience in- 
tensely. When next day the town band arrived to serenade 
her, she sent out a terse request that she might be left in 
peace. 

My mother was as bitterly opposed to Fred's musical career 
as my father, and never at any time heard any of his music 
played. When visitors tried to draw her out on the subject 
of her famous son, she always countered them by remark- 
ing what a charming and handsome boy Fred was, never so 
much as making any reference to his compositions. In my 
own heart I believe that papa associated the idea of music 
as a profession — this in spite of the fact that he knew many 
musicians — with those wandering German bands which be- 
fore the war used to tour the country with a bassoon, a 
trombone, a cornet and sometimes a flute and a drum. 

Of these parents, whom I have sketched at some length, 
Frederick Delius was born on January 29th, 1862. 



34 



CHAPTER II 

Popular biography has dealt again and again, almost 
ad nauseam, with the theme of genius in the making. 
Under some variant of that title we have been presented 
with pictures of the infancy and childhood of the world's 
leaders in thought and action. From Washington who 
couldn't tell a lie, down to the life story of the successful 
business man, who has been dignified with a peerage, there 
runs the same theory — the child being the father of the man, 
it is essential that he should reproduce in his pre-adolescent 
days those characteristics which in after life made him 
famous. 

According to this recipe Frederick Delius, who was to 
give those beautiful music poems to the world, which it took 
years for the world to appreciate, should have been a dreamy 
boy, making no contact with the life around him, but living 
entirely in the magic environment of his sound-drenched 
thoughts. 

But my brother was not the slightest bit like that, 
and I still revolt against the kudos which the last few tragic 
years of his life brought to him from a sentimental public. 
The loveliest things he ever wrote were composed in the hey- 
day of his strength and vigour. His genius, except in certain 
circles, was unappreciated. Omniscient critics laughed at him 
at first; and it needed his blindness and his loss of the power 
of movement and that memorable picture in the Royal 
Academy, showing him in his bath chair, to raise him to his 
proper position in the estimation of the public. 

35 



FREDERICK DELIUS 

But that is not the Fred I remember — the Fritz of my 
childhood — the gallant, handsome, mischievous boy, always 
seeking adventures, always in trouble ! I am going to resist 
the temptation of painting him as I am convinced the unre- 
flecting public would think he ought to have been — the shy, 
shrinking child with his soul steeped in mysterious beauty. 
Except for his unsatisfied passion for music, which was, after 
all, shared by my eldest brother, he was a normal, healthy 
boy. 

The man who wrote " On hearing the first cuckoo in 
Spring " was once the boy who could never read enough 
penny dreadfuls. That mind which was to pour out such a 
spate of beauty, fostered itself on those far-off days upon 
the fevered romances of Buffalo Bill, and of adventures in a 
very wild west. And his deplorable taste in literature did not 
stop there. His favourite books did not concern themselves 
with the lives of great composers, and he did not collect a 
library of ' Masters of Music ', in whose footsteps he dreamed 
of treading. What he loved before all things was Sweeny 
Tod, or the Demon Barber of Fleet Street — a taste I am 
glad to think he shared with the professor of English litera- 
ture at Cambridge University, Sir A. T. Quiller-Couch, who 
has publicly acclaimed this necrophagous romance as a 
classic. 

In the room which he shared with his younger brother, 
Max, when both of them were supposed to be asleep, he 
would feed his imagination with the breathless ride of Dick 
Turpin to York and break out into a perspiration of delight- 
ful horror at the machinations of barber Sweeny Tod and his 
revolving chair and the conveniently placed sausage factory 
next door to the tonsorial parlour of death. They collected 
between them an enormous library of such works. To outwit 

36 



FREDERICK DELIUS 

the domestic authorities, who would certainly have banned 
such indulgencies, Fred invented an ingenious contraption 
of strings and pulleys, by which the tap of the gas — there 
was no electricity in those days — could be turned off when- 
ever our mother's footsteps were heard approaching the room. 
When she entered to see that all was well with them, she 
found two innocent looking little boys with their eyes tight 
closed, wrapt apparently in slumber. She never dreamed — 
until accident revealed the secret — that those pictures of 
innocence were hugging to their breasts under the bed- 
clothes such monsters of cruelty and infamy. When she did 
make the discovery all that hectic literature was confiscated, 
and though Fred maintained irreverently that mamma 
took them away and read them herself, this reflection, which 
was based on no ascertainable fact, failed to compensate him 
for his loss. His detection was due to a lamentable break- 
down at the critical moment in his Heath Robinson con- 
trivance of strings and pulleys. 

His remoteness from real life which should, I feel, have 
been another of his characteristics if he was to have been 
1 up to sample ', to employ a Bradford phrase, was also non- 
existent. He was essentially a good mixer. Though apt to 
take violent dislikes to persons with whom, according to the 
family code of caste, he ought to have made friends, he be- 
came intimate with all sorts and conditions of people. Again 
and again he was tracked down to some humble home where 
he would be found talking with unself-conscious intimacy in 
his engaging, friendly way with some rough, burly Yorkshire- 
man on sport and music. 

My grandmother has told me how when Fred was brought 
to stay with her in Bielefeld, he became keenly interested in 
the soldiers who garrisoned the town. He made friends with 

37 



FREDERICK DELIUS 

almost all of them, and became a great favourite in the bar- 
racks. He was bitterly disappointed when his request that 
he might bring a corporal to tea met with the announcement 
that such a thing was not possible, for it seemed to him an 
absurd prohibition which prevented him from enjoying the 
company, in an ordinary social atmosphere, of somebody to 
whom he had taken a fancy. Grandmamma gave him a tiny 
helmet and sword, and on the next occasion when the regi- 
ment with the band marched from the barracks, Fred, fully 
equipped and holding his sword with stiff correctness, 
stepped out bravely by the side of the officer commanding. 

In those far-off days he had a characteristic which was to 
remain with him to the end, and to make him perhaps the 
most travelled composer in the world. Deep down in his heart 
there was a wanderlust, and he was always talking, like 
children talk, of the remote countries he intended to explore 
when he became a man. This urge found its expression in 
several adventures. On one occasion, after reading a more 
than ordinarily exciting specimen of the forbidden literature, 
he made up his mind to run away and seek his fortune. The 
scheme was confided to his brother Max, and worked out 
beforehand in detail. Early one morning they stole out of 
the house before the servants were up, and with a commis- 
sariat consisting entirely of sweets, which they had acquired 
in secret, set out on their Odyssey. Their journey took them 
out of Bradford and across Rumbold's Moor to Ilkley, four- 
teen miles away. Very footsore and weary, they arrived safely 
at their destination. They were now the ' arrivists who had 
arrived', and while they were debating in the middle of 
Brook Street what they were to do next — they had begun to 
find a diet limited entirely to sweets somewhat unsubstantial 
— a friend of the family came in sight. Before they could 

38 






FREDERICK DELIUS 

bolt he had stopped them and begun to question them. What 
on earth were they doing there, with their clothes in a state 
to which it was notorious my father would have reacted with 
violence? Fred's answers, like the answers of all little boys in 
such circumstances, were directed to employing the maxi- 
mum amount of words with the very minimum of damna- 
tory facts. But these evasive and confused replies were 
futile. The gentleman took them to the station, and put them 
on the train for Bradford, having first given them in charge 
of the guard who was instructed not to take his eye off them. 
He then went and telegraphed to our parents. They were 
met on arrival and taken home in disgrace. A veil may be 
drawn over the rest of the story. 

On another occasion he was bitten with the desire to join a 
circus, being inspired to this ambition from that same stock 
of illicit literature. It was obvious that before he could qualify 
for the ring, he must master the intricacies of the profession. 
The city of Bradford, as an environment in which to practise 
circus tricks, was not suitable, and had he attempted to use 
Claremont Avenue for the purpose, he must immediately 
have been detected. He wanted some wide, open space where 
he would be free from observation. Fortunately about this 
time, my father took a furnished house at Ilkley to give the 
family a change of air. What better place for his purpose 
than Rumbold's Moor? Secretly saddling Black Bess, he set 
out. On reaching his destination he began solemnly to train 
himself in the tricks of equestrianism. The first thing to 
learn was how to stand on the back of a moving horse. Un- 
fortunately Black Bess, who shied at anything abnormal, was 
the very last animal with which to make such experiments. 
He had just managed to pose himself upright when she 
bolted. Fred slipped on to the saddle, and then in falling off 

39 



FREDERICK DELIUS 

caught his foot in the stirrup. The result was disastrous. 
Black Bess before she stopped had dragged him over rocks, 
boulders and heather. When finally she came to a stand- 
still he was badly injured about the head and face, and it was 
months before he recovered. 

I can recall so well how this circus complex took root. On 
one of the red letter days of our childhood a circus came to 
Bradford and we were all allowed to witness the performance. 
The artist who gripped and held our youthful imaginations 
was a certain Signor Luigi, a magnificent figure in tights and 
spangles, who did amazing exploits on horseback and the 
flying trapeze. At the nursery conference afterwards, at 
which Fred may be said to have taken the chair, it was 
unanimously decided that the only career worth our con- 
sideration was that of a circus performer. This premise 
having been established, the meeting went into committee to 
decide how it should be carried out. Obviously our foolish 
parents would object. How to get round their objections? 
Fred, with diplomatic cunning, proposed this scheme. No 
use sending a deputation to our parents with a demand that 
we should be released from the control of governesses and 
schoolmasters. The thing was to adapt ourselves in secret 
for the profession upon which we had decided. 

As I have already related, my father was very anxious that 
we should become skilled riders. This gave Fred his idea. 
Why shouldn't we ask papa to let us have lessons from the 
great Signor Luigi? Once we had established the Signor as 
our master, it would be an easy matter to learn all his tricks. 
But none of us had quite enough courage to make the pro- 
posal in person. Fred therefore moved that we draw up a 
round robin, signed by all of us, requesting, in suitably sub- 
missive terms, that Signor Luigi should in future give us 

40 



FREDERICK DELIUS 

riding lessons. This document, duly signed by all of us, was 
committed to the care of a maid for presentation to my 
father. We waited days of anxiety, but when there was no 
answer, we decided that the maid had betrayed us, and had 
funked delivering the letter. 

But that did not deter us from trying to qualify ourselves 
in other ways for the ring. Here again Fred was the leader. 
Every evening we met in his bedroom, and, after we were 
supposed to be in bed and asleep, had a flying trapeze per- 
formance of our own. Fred's bed was an old-fashioned one 
with curtains, and the pole supporting these curtains was 
our trapeze. One by one we climbed up on to the mantel- 
piece, copying Signor Luigi as nearly as we could, and took 
a flying leap out into space. If we were lucky we caught the 
curtain pole, swung for a moment, and then dropped on to 
the bed to make room for the next flyer. Fred would allow 
no laggards, and we were kept hard at our practice. If we 
missed a hold and slipped and crashed — a painful experi- 
ence — we were not excused but were compelled to go and 
do it all over again. My mother never could understand 
how it was that the top of the bed got so bent ! 

The annual pantomime at the Theatre Royal was another 
golden episode of Fred's life as a child. On the great day 
a considerable part of the front row of the dress circle used 
to be occupied by little Deliuses. Papa used to bring some 
of his friends from the club to watch us all sitting there. We 
appeared so solemn that my uncle Theodore declared, " The 
children don't seem to be enjoying it at all," to which my 
father, who in spite of all his martinet methods understood 
children, replied, " Wait and see." The following day he 
took Uncle Theodore up to the nursery, from which came a 
very uproar of sound. We were all there under Fred's 

4i 



FREDERICK DELIUS 

management, re-acting the pantomime of Bluebeard, which 
we had seen the day before. Fred himself was in the title 
role, and was so very realistic that the little girl who was 
taking the part of Fatima broke down, exclaiming, " Oh, 
Fritz, don't look so fierce ! I'm frightened and can't remem- 
ber my words." 

Another childish characteristic of my brother's was his 
fastidiousness in the matter of dress — a curious trait con- 
sidering what a good mixer he was, and how from his very 
earliest days he had a passion for travelling and adventure. 
He used to wear tiny little white waistcoats, which were 
necessarily limited to a certain number a week. One day, 
before a clean garment was due to be produced, he dirtied 
the waistcoat he was wearing. He was extraordinarily upset 
about this. Knowing that it was useless to ask for a clean 
waistcoat the following day, which would have been con- 
trary to the domestic programme, he went to his eldest sister, 
Missie, afterwards Mrs. Hickling, and begged her to do 
something about it. Obviously the only thing Missie could 
do was to wash the garment. Long after she was supposed to 
be in bed she began her job as laundry woman, standing 
on a stool, so that she could reach the basin. In the middle 
of this performance mamma arrived on her maternal round, 
which was much later than usual that night. I have often 
heard her give a picture of the scene — Missie balanced 
perilously on the stool, washing Fred's waistcoat in cold 
water, while Fred in his little nightshirt looked anxiously 
on. After she had reprimanded them, she inquired how 
they proposed drying it; whereupon Fred replied that he 
and Missie had arranged to sleep on it in turns ! 

When Fred was born he was very delicate and so ugly 
that when his elder brother, Ernest, saw him, he exclaimed 

42 



FREDERICK DELIUS 

disdainfully, " Oh, is that a baby? I thought it was a little 
pig! " The absence of good looks was another illustration 
of the story of the ugly duckling that turned into a swan, 
for in after years Fred became a remarkably handsome man. 
All the succession of infantile ailments attacked him in turn, 
in every case leaving him very weak and ill, so that it seemed 
at one time as if he would never grow to manhood. But after 
a bout of whooping-cough he suddenly picked up his 
strength, and physically never looked back, as the phrase is, 
until that mysterious tragic illness of his last years. 

At the age of nine he was sent with his brother, Max, to 
a preparatory school, kept by a Mr. Frankland, just outside 
the gates of Claremont. The pupils of this school consisted 
largely of all the little boys who lived in Claremont and the 
vicinity. While here, Fred's insatiable love of adventure 
blossomed, and it often happened that though both he and 
his brother set off looking like paragon pupils, they never 
arrived at their appointed destination. Representations by 
Mr. Frankland led to the subsequent discovery that Fred 
and Max had taken refuge in some fields adjoining, and there 
had spent the time playing at Dick Turpin and Claud Duval. 
Later he and Max were sent to the Grammar School, where 
Fred proved himself to be a very dull scholar, making no 
mark whatsoever in academic learning. My father would 
not allow them to play football — he regarded it as a rough 
and ungentlemanly game! — but Fred was a very keen 
cricketer. 

Even then, I think, he was finding the discipline 
of his home life very irksome. One of my father's unalter- 
able rules was that he and his brother Max should accom- 
pany their sisters to church every Sunday. Fred revolted 
at last against this practice, which he described as girlish, 

43 



PREDERICK DELIUS 

and as soon as he was out of his father's sight broke away 
with Max from the rest of the family party, to go for a long 
walk, rejoining us at the church door when the service was 
over. My father, fortunately, never discovered this breach 
of the regulations. He wasted much time and ingenuity too 
in inventing reasons for staying away from school. It was he 
who thought of the bright notion that Max and himself 
should take it in turns to be ill. One morning Max would 
come down and say that Fred was ill. A few days later it 
was Fred's turn to tell the same tale about Max. The ruse, 
however, never once succeeded, for my father invariably sent 
for the family doctor and the fraud was exposed. They clung 
to the scheme, however, optimistically, until one memorable 
day when Fred slightly changed the programme, and in- 
stead of talking about general symptoms of malaise, sent 
Max to declare that he had broken his toe. " How did he do 
that? " my father inquired. " I don't know," the loyal Max 
replied, clinging desperately to the skirts of truth, " but he 
says it hurts." Once more the doctor was sent for and duly 
reported that not one of his patient's ten toes had suffered 
any damage. It was true that Fred on that occasion escaped 
morning school, but the paternal wrath was such that this 
plan of malingering was finally abandoned. 

A ridiculous episode lingers in my mind. I relate it merely 
for the purpose of building up a picture of Fred as a boy. 
Our governess would insist on myself and my sisters singing 
trios. She was so pleased with our progress that she sent for 
Fred to come and listen to our performance. I can see him 
standing there now, with a faint, ironic grin upon his lips, 
listening as we, terribly self-consciously, did our piece. He 
made no comment at the time, but for days afterwards he 
reduced us almost to tears of fury by solemnly chanting 

44 



FREDERICK DELIUS 

whenever he met us, " I've been gathering sweet flowers, 
dear mother, for thee-ee ! " 

Sir Francis Watson has resurrected for me from the 
shadows of the past some episodes from Fred's boyhood. He 
recalls how he and his brothers, together with some of their 
friends, got up a Christie Minstrel performance at Fred's 
instigation. The performance was given in the loft of Sir 
Francis Watson's stables. The thing was done in style, prices 
varying from threepence to sixpence being charged for the 
seats — though as all the seats were the same, purists might 
have found some difficulty in discovering the reason for this 
differentiation. Not that the box office was too hard upon 
the audience — for an audience, after all, had to be had at any 
price, and if one of us pleaded poverty we were allowed in 
for a halfpenny, and even that halfpenny was sometimes 
waived. 

All the costumes for these performances were made 
from ' fents ' — those gaily coloured pieces of cloth used at 
the warehouse in the business with the Far East. I remember 
at one of these performances how, as Fred was leading the 
chorus in " Shine, shine moon " the last of the candles which, 
placed in saucers, constituted the footlights, went out, leav- 
ing the performers to conclude their pointed invocation to 
the moon, in pitch darkness. I suppose the box office returns 
had not justified the purchase of new candles. 

Some people in the neighbourhood took it into their heads 
to keep ducks, whose quacking became a public nuisance. 
Sir Francis Watson spoke about the matter to Fred, and sug- 
gested that something ought to be done about it — though 
what, he could not think. Fred, however, rose to the occasion. 
Obtaining some maize, he soaked it in rum, which he ob- 
tained from the parental cellar, and then, seizing the right 

45 



FREDERICK DELTUS 

moment, threw this doped food over the wall into the duck 
yard. The ducks became so gloriously intoxicated that they 
sprawled about in various comic attitudes, and were quite 
unable to raise between them even a quack. Though the 
cure was not permanent, there was peace at least for one 
night. 

One other anecdote of his childhood. Fred had a loathing 
for milk puddings, and unfortunately mamma considered 
them an essential part of any menu for children. Always at 
lunch there was the hated milk pudding, which Fred tried to 
hide under his spoon. While papa, strong on the subject of 
disciplining the appetite, protested that he should not be 
forced to eat what he did not want, mamma was adamant, 
and the hated concoction had to be swallowed. Eventually 
Fred discovered a way out of this impasse. He would spread 
his handkerchief on his knee, and ladle the milk pudding 
secretly into it when nobody was looking. Afterwards, when 
he had escaped from the dining-room, he would decant the 
contents into the fire or dust-bin. 

In only one thing did he differ from the majority of boys. 
He was intensely musical. In later years he remarked 
reminiscently in my presence, " I can't remember the time 
when I began to play the piano, but I must have been very 
small." From babyhood — almost literally from babyhood! 
— he played by ear, and used to be brought down after dinner 
to perform to the guests. When he had given a rendering 
of some of his stock pieces, my mother would say, " Make 
up something, Fritz/' and he would then improvise. As far 
as I can ascertain, this must have happened before he was 
seven years of age. 

The violin for a long time was the instrument he studied 
and was taught. When he said that he wanted to learn the 

4 6 



FREDERICK DELIUS 

violin, papa, laughing, asked him what he thought he could 
do with the instrument. 

" I can play it," Fred answered simply. 

Probably with the idea of reproving this complacency and 
conceit, my father sent for a violin and put it into Fred's 
hands. To his utter astonishment, Fred, though it was the 
first time he had ever handled a violin, did play. So rapidly 
did he master the instrument that at the age of twelve or 
thirteen he was paid a signal honour. Joachim and Piatti, 
then the greatest violinist and cellist in the world, were to 
have given a performance of a trio at one of my father's 
musical evenings at Claremont. The third performer, how- 
ever, was absent through illness, and Fred was called in to 
take his place. So perfectly did he play that both Joachim 
and Piati were loud in praise of his skill. Though he made 
such a remarkable progress in the study of the violin, he 
gave up this instrument entirely shortly after attaining the 
age of thirty. 

Fred's musical genius — I write with submission — seems to 
me in looking back to have developed from the contacts he 
made with life. Cheerfully gregarious, he made the acquain- 
tance of a young sailor, to whose stories of his adventures on 
the Seven Seas he listened hungrily. I think his desire at the 
time was the natural reaction of a healthy boy — to imitate 
those adventures and to taste the joy of those experiences, 
which thrilled him to his marrow. But being baulked of any 
chance of doing this, he found a vent for his feelings in that 
medium to which he turned more and more, until it became 
his chief form of emotional expression. He would rush back 
from one of these intimate talks, his eyes shining, straight 
to the schoolroom. There he would seat himself at the Erard 
and begin to improvise, turning all those adventures he had 

47 



FREDERICK DELIUS 

just heard of into music. And such wonderful music — so it 
seemed to us, at any rate ! I can see him seated on the stool, 
turning round occasionally to us, and saying breathlessly, 
" That's a wood, hanging on the shore of a coral island . . . 
That's where the river meets the sea . . . That's a bird . . , 
This is the sunset in the tropics. This is the dawn . . ." 
He held us all entranced with these first essays in music 
poems. 

Throughout all his schooldays, his greatest joy was going 
to concerts. No matter how classical they were, or how bored 
a great part of the audience might be, Fred was always lost 
in a trance of bliss. He had a great and an abiding admira- 
tion for Chopin. I recall him telling me how when he was 
ten years old he heard one of papa's friends play the post- 
humous valse by Chopin, in A minor, and how as he listened 
he seemed to undergo an emotional release. It was actually 
the first time he had heard Chopin played, and it opened up 
for him an entirely new world. After he had heard it per- 
formed twice, he was able to play that particular valse by 
heart without a mistake. It seems amazing to me that 
the family did not recognise the budding musical genius 
of a boy of ten years of age who could perform such a 
feat! 

Still devoted to the violin, Fred used to play duets with 
my eldest sister, Missie, who accompanied him on the piano. 
The old schoolroom at Claremont comes back to me very 
clearly now as I write. I can see Fred's boyish figure with 
the violin nestled under his chin, his handsome face en- 
tranced, filling the room with beautiful sounds. Very often 
they were summoned to the morning-room, there to play 
for papa, who was never to listen to one of Fred's composi- 
tions when he had become famous in the art, of the practice 

4 8 




FREDERICK DELIUS IN 
1865-66, AGED 3 




FREDERICK DELIUS, AGE 21 



FREDERICK DELIUS 

of which he stubbornly disapproved to the day of his death. 
Cultured critic though he was, papa never had anything but 
the warmest praise for these performances. 

But even in his music Fred remained a healthy, mis- 
chievous boy, loving to play jokes through that medium 
of emotional expression, which he was beginning to master 
so rapidly. I will give an illustration. Living opposite to us 
in Claremont in those days was an old clergyman, who was 
a very strict Sabbatarian. One Sunday he invited Fred and 
his friend, Watson, now Sir Francis, to come over to tea. 
That repast concluded, Fred was requested to play, but as it 
was Sunday, the music had to be what is still called for some 
mysterious reason ' sacred \ Their host suggested that he 
should give them a selection from an oratorio, which could 
not offend against the law laid down in Sinai regarding the 
sanctity of the Sabbath Day. Fred immediately took his 
place at the instrument, and with great solemnity began to 
play slowly and impressively something that he improvised 
as he went along. The old clergyman was delighted, and 
innocently asked who was the author of the oratorio, from 
which Fred had selected this beautiful fragment. Without 
a smile, and without a moment's hesitation, Fred gave a 
name, which he invented on the spot, of some non-existent 
German composer — and the old clergyman was perfectly 
satisfied. 

On another occasion one of my first teeth had become 
loose. With the nervousness of childhood, I would not let 
the nurse pull it out. While we were arguing, Fred came into 
the schoolroom and, hearing what the trouble was, said he 
would manage it for me all right. Very tenderly he tied a 
piece of cotton round my little tooth, and then attached the 
cotton to the candle bracket on the piano. Getting a chair, 

d 49 



FREDERICK DELIUS 

he made me sit down close to the piano stool. Then, having 
assured himself that I was quite comfortable and not a bit 
nervous, he took his place at the instrument and began to 
play as only he could play. Very soon I was lost in the beauty 
of the music that he improvised. I forgot all about my tooth, 
and the ridiculous position in which I was, seated there with 
a piece of cotton protruding from my mouth. For an hour, 
without ever pausing, he went on, transporting me into a 
magic world. At the end of that time, according to plan, 
nurse came hurriedly into the room and in an urgent voice 
said she wanted me at once. Without thinking, up I jumped 
and, the piece of cotton becoming taut through that gesture, 
out came my tooth — to the delight of Fred ! 

Often I went long walks alone with him. I can remember 
a trick he had which puzzled me intensely at the time, of 
pausing every now and again to listen to some natural sound, 
such as the rustling of a tree or the singing of a bird, or the 
murmur of a moorland brook. He would stand quite still 
as if drinking something in, his expression becoming wrapt 
and attentive. The next moment he would be walking along, 
laughing and talking as usual, never explaining even to me 
what it was that had held his attention for those trance-like 
moments. A friend relates how, when Fred was a boy, he 
was walking with him one day across the moors. Accom- 
panying them was Fred's dog, which was running about 
barking happily, after the manner of dogs. Suddenly there 
broke upon their ears the exquisite note of a singing bird. 
Fred instantly stopped, and, picking up the dog in his arms 
so that it stopped its barking, stood perfectly still for several 
minutes, listening to that song. 

Though he was such a brilliant musician, he was, in a 
sense, almost wholly self taught. There came a time — it 

5° 



FREDERICK DELIUS 

must have been when he was about thirteen — when the 
paternal edict was issued ordering him to learn the piano 
correctly. Up to the age of fifteen or sixteen, I remember 
him telling me, the succession of masters under whom he 
was placed tried to teach him scales and exercises for prac- 
tice. He hated them, and though he made a show of doing 
what he was told, his efforts were always very faulty. Then 
one day he heard Chopin's funeral march. In a very agony 
of emotion he caught hold of the man who had played it, 
and besought him to teach him music, especially that piece. 
The man kindly consented, and never after that did Fred 
play a scale or an exercise. He learned various pieces of 
music, and in an incredibly short time he could read per- 
fectly at sight. From then on, if he were not doing lessons or 
reading a book, he was reading music at the piano. 

Though Bradford Grammar School is famous for the 
number of academical honours won by its pupils, my 
brothers failed to swell the list of these distinctions. Partly 
because he was dissatisfied with Fred's progress, my father 
decided on a change. The school selected was the Interna- 
tional College, Spring Grove, Isleworth, of which a Mr. 
Ladell was then the head master. For some reason, which 
I have not been able to discover, this school was very popular 
with Bradford parents, and among the number of famous 
Bradford men who benefited from its instructions at the 
same time as my brother, was Arthur Illingworth, who was 
Postmaster General from 1 916 to 1921, and was raised to the 
peerage as Lord Illingworth. Another pupil was Sir Fred 
Moore. 

It was Fred's first experience of a boarding school, and, 
though he was accompanied by his younger brother Max, he 
suffered from a severe attack of homesickness when, after 



FREDERICK DELIUS 

some jolly days in town with the Langham Hotel as his base, 
he was finally handed over to the care of Mr. Ladell. The 
discipline, in particular, he found very irksome, but gradu- 
ally, like every other boy, he settled down and entered fully 
into the life around him. In spite of parental disapproval, 
he tried to play football, but without developing any real 
taste for the game. At cricket, however, both he and his 
brother were notable successes. It was his passion for cricket, 
indeed, which oddly enough helped him forward on his musi- 
cal career. Coming from the playing fields one day, the boys 
were playing about with the wickets which they had just 
drawn, using them as spears. One of these missiles, thrown 
with great force, stuck in Fred's head, causing a very serious 
wound. The illness was a lengthy one, involving a long 
period of convalescence. During those days of enforced idle- 
ness, Fred spent the whole of his time at the piano in one or 
other of the music rooms. Sir Fred Moore has told me how 
my brother used to waylay him in the passage, and drag him 
into the music room and make him sing for him. " It didn't 
matter whether I had the music or not. If I knew the words 
and tune, that was enough. Fred would make up the most 
wonderful accompaniments, full of the marvellous harmonies 
for which years later he was to become so celebrated." Nor 
Was Sir Frederick's experience unique. Any boy with any 
sort of voice at all was pressed into the services of the future 
composer, and begged to sing so that my brother might have 
the opportunity of improvising an accompaniment. 

I must refer again to a curious trait in my father's make- 
up. Though he set his face ruthlessly against music as a 
career, he insisted upon its cultural value in education. 
Though I myself was passionately fond of music and was 
in after years to have the privilege of singing my brother's 

5* 



FREDERICK DELIUS 

songs, a cloud was cast over my childhood, when I was at 
school in Hanover, by this idiosyncrasy of my father's. I was 
forced to attend the opera twice a week every week, whether 
I wanted to or not, and I must confess that I got very bored. 
But with Fred it was quite different. While he was at Isle- 
worth he always employed the exeats he managed to get, not 
in the usual schoolboy way, but by running up to London 
to attend some musical performance. He was usually accom- 
panied on these occasions by Mr. Gordan, who taught him 
the piano, or Mr. Lieshman, who instructed him in the violin. 
When he returned he invariably played almost the whole of 
the concert for the benefit of the boys. 

It was towards the end of his schooldays at Isleworth that 
he composed his first song, bringing it home with great pride 
for me to sing. It was much too high for me in those days, but 
Fred insisted, and I did my best. I remember it began 
" When other lips shall speak," and was in two parts, the 
first for a man's voice and the second for a woman's. I was 
expected to sing both parts. I remember I tried to leave out 
the high notes, but to this Fred would not agree, and I had 
to do my best with results which, from an artistic standpoint, 
I cannot help thinking must have been disastrous. Some- 
where among my music I have the score of this song, but 
at the time of writing it has unfortunately eluded my search. 
It was quite short, just one page of manuscript, the score 
written almost microscopically in that odd manner, peculiar 
to Fred, to which I shall have to refer later. 

After his last term at Isleworth in the winter of 1879, both 
Max and Fred were told that they must be prepared for con- 
firmation by Mr. Kennion, at that time vicar of All Saints, 
Bradford, and afterwards Bishop of Bath and Wells. Max 
attended one class, and then coming to the conclusion that 

53 



FREDERICK DELIUS 

he did not like it, told the astonished vicar that he didn't 
think he ought to be confirmed as he was a Unitarian — 
though I am convinced that neither then nor afterwards had 
he any comprehension of the theological doctrines involved 
in Unitarianism. Fred, however, submitted himself meekly 
to his spiritual pastor and was duly confirmed. 

Mr. Kennion, who had taken a great fancy to Fred, invited 
him and Sir Fred Moore to a Christmas dinner. After- 
wards, Fred was asked to play, which he willingly did, en- 
tirely without music. Quite unaware that my brother was 
improvising, the vicar asked him to repeat a piece which he 
had just performed. Fred, quite unable to remember what 
it was he had played, sat down at the piano with a wink at 
his fellow guests and immediately improvised something 
else, which the future Bishop of Bath and Wells was en- 
tirely satisfied was a repetition of what he had just heard. 
Fred was always very modest about his playing, and though 
never so happy as when he was at the piano, would stop 
after a short time, fearing that his audience might be bored. 
It says much for the musical tastes of his companions at the 
time that on no occasion, as far as I have been able to find 
out, was he not pressed to continue. 

Though he had been so homesick when he was sent to 
Isleworth he left the college with regret. It was, he knew, 
the end of his carefree youth. From then onwards he was 
dedicated to the propagation of wealth by the barter of 
wool. Henceforth music, except as a slight, cultural relaxa- 
tion, was to be forbidden. A young man, whose brain was 
teeming with the beauty of sound, was informed that he 
must concentrate the whole of his attention upon the family 
warehouse and the family business. So began the next 
chapter of his career which so very nearly made a tragedy 

54 



FREDERICK DELIUS 

of his life. There is perhaps no greater cruelty than to 
muzzle an artist and prevent his free expression of him- 
self; it is certainly a crime to deprive a world, too much 
occupied with material things, of beauty. That cruelty 
and that crime came very near being committed in the case 
of Frederick Delius. 



55 



CHAPTER III 

My brother was just eighteen when he was engulfed 
in the family business. I suppose it is true that 
all men of outstanding artistic genius sooner or 
later extricate themselves from the tangle of hampering 
circumstances and find an opportunity for expressing them- 
selves. I think that Fred somehow or other would have 
made his name as a great composer, even had he continued 
to be attached nominally to the wool business in Bradford. 
But the struggle would have been harder and his genius 
might have suffered. The tragedy of what happened — if it 
really was a tragedy, and not a comedy — lies in the ruth- 
lessness with which my father tried to force him into a life 
to which he was obviously unsuited. The world is full of 
parents who, in the treatment of their children, have been 
guilty of the elementary mistake of making no allow- 
ance for the emotional side of life. My father was one of 
these. 

He had built up a flourishing business by his own unaided 
efforts. He had amassed a very considerable fortune. As he 
saw life it was the natural and proper thing for his sons to 
add to that fortune by learning and operating the business. 
It must have been a very bitter disappointment, then, when 
his two elder sons failed to fit themselves into this pro- 
gramme he had mapped out, not from any selfish motives, 
but purely from the very laudable desire to establish the 
family he had brought into the world on a firm, substantial 
basis. Ernest, my eldest brother, early in his career fled to 

56 



FREDERICK DELIUS 

New Zealand to take up sheep farming. Fred, for a time, 
was the keystone of his dream, and that keystone also 
failed him. Max alone remained, and he, unfortunately, was 
too temperamental for the rough and tumble of Bradford 
life. Though I can understand his point of view and feel 
a filial sympathy for him, the mistakes he made in the hand- 
ling of my brother Frederick are only too obvious. But to 
labour this point would, I think, be unbecoming. 

The fact that he was to go into the business did not come 
as a shock to Fred. My father had never made any secret 
of the plans for his future. It was not the embryo artist, 
conscious that he was undergoing a martyrdom, who was 
dragged each day from Claremont to the warehouse. On 
the contrary, it was a young man hungry for experiences 
and eager to do his best, who took off his coat to the utterly 
unsuitable job to which he had been allocated. He was to 
begin right at the bottom, and this fact, strangely enough, 
seems to have been a source of great comfort to him. Ap- 
parently he hated the idea of being supposed, as the son 
of the owner, to know by some sort of pentecostal inspira- 
tion — and only pentecostal inspiration would have made 
Fred into a wool merchant ! — more than the employees who 
had been long in the service of the firm. Ingratiatingly 
modest and retiring — and alas for my father's dream, en- 
tirely without ambition! — he liked the humble role for 
which he was cast. 

Mr. Sucksmith, one of my father's managers, to whom I 
am indebted for much information about Fred at this time, 
has given me a picture of him, which may be reproduced 
here. " He was," he said, " the handsomest lad I ever saw 
in my life. He was always very smart in his appearance 
and held himself most beautifully. He was one of the 

57 



FREDERICK DELIUS 

most charming and attractive young men I have ever 
known. He was quite devoid of side and was on friendly 
and intimate terms with everybody. He loved to talk York- 
shire with the men, and indeed I have been told that he 
frequently employed the Yorkshire idiom and the York- 
shire accent in the later days of his fame. He stuck to the 
business manfully, never shirked a job, and was noted for 
his astonishing punctuality." 

I may mention, in parenthesis, that Fred, though of 
alien stock, was proud of his Yorkshire birthplace, and 
retained to the day of his death a great affection for the 
West Riding and their people. He was the only one of my 
brothers who made a point of acquiring the broad speech 
of the north, which he could use very effectively when 
necessary. One fact emerges from Mr. Sucksmith's picture 
of those first business days. Fred was trying to please his 
father, doing his very best to fit himself for that station 
in life to which, my father was convinced, he had been 
called. He was never too big for his boots; he never posed 
as the artist condescending to descend to the rough and 
tumble of the market-place. He tried, honestly, to make 
himself an efficient wool merchant. Fortunately he tried 
in vain. The world of music was there, and it was always 
calling him. Try as he might, he could not shut his ears. 
I, myself, think it is a great testimonial to his character that 
for close on four years he stuck manfully to his utterly 
uncongenial task. 

But if he did his duty, he hated the life. I can remember 
so well his return each evening from business. Like some- 
one who was famished, he would rush straight to the school- 
room and seat himself instantly at the piano. There, until 
dinner time, he would stick improvising the most beautiful 

58 



FREDERICK DELIUS 

harmonies. I can see him now, on one memorable even- 
ing, before going to the piano, posing himself in front of 
the fireplace and addressing my sisters and myself on the 
subject of his future. " Girls, I loathe this business, but 
I'm going to give it a fair trial. If it fails I'll definitely 
devote my life to music, no matter what happens, and some 
day I'll make the name of Delius known all over the world." 
That proud, boyish boast, uttered with such enthusiasm, 
showed that even then, when he was not yet twenty, he 
had an artist's appreciation of his latent powers. I suspect 
this anecdote conforms to that popular biographical type 
which I deprecate, but as the incident is burnt upon my 
memory, I cannot refrain from giving it here. 

When Fred had been about six months in the business, 
Mr. Sucksmith sought an interview with my father. Mr. 
Fritz, he said, was absolutely wasting his time in the de- 
partment in which he had been placed. He suggested that 
his charming manners and his ingratiating appearance 
might be an invaluable asset to the firm, and he advised 
his being sent to one of the firm's agents in the West of 
England, where he might learn the art of " getting busi- 
ness ". My father at first demurred to this proposal on the 
grounds that Fred was far too young, but after some per- 
suasion he at last agreed. It was decided that Fred should 
be placed under the wing of a Mr. Baxter at Stroud, the 
headquarters of the West of England cloth industry. Here 
he was to be shown the ropes and acquire the qualifications 
for a commercial traveller. It was arranged that he should 
have quarters at the Imperial Hotel, and as was my father's 
custom, a very handsome allowance was made for his 
expenses. 

On the first night, however, Fred was invited to dinner 

59 



FREDERICK DELIUS 

at Mr. Baxter's house. There his remarkable social gifts so 
charmed his host that he was begged to leave the hotel and 
stay at Mr. Baxter's house during the remainder of his 
sojourn in the town. Fred readily accepted the invitation 
which, incidentally, enabled him to combine the pursuit of 
business with the gratification of his taste for music. In 
after years Mr. Baxter used to remark, " What a boy he 
was ! Before he'd been a week with us he knew everybody 
in Stroud worth knowing, and his life was one round of 
social gaiety." From a business point of view this was, of 
course, all to the good, for personality and charm are im- 
portant assets in getting orders. But Mr. Baxter's hospi- 
tality had another result, besides being the means of intro- 
ducing him to all the right people. The handsome allow- 
ance which was earmarked to pay his expenses at the 
Imperial Hotel, was not required for that purpose. Fred, 
finding himself with so much money in his pocket, took 
to making rushes up to London, which was only a hundred 
odd miles away, to attend concerts. He made a point of 
always returning the same night, and late though the hour 
was, he would seat himself at the piano and repeat for the 
benefit of Mr. Baxter's household the whole of the per- 
formance to which he had listened. 

As far as I can ascertain, his official visit to Stroud was 
the only one of the kind which can be said to have pro- 
moted the firm's interests. It set a standard, however, which 
papa optimistically hoped would be maintained. If he 
could be so successful at Stroud, what might he not do 
abroad when he had acquired more experience? As a step 
in this direction, arrangements were made by which he was 
to be received as a volontaire to a large manufacturing 
firm at Chemnitz in Saxony. But here, alas, the temptations 

60 



FREDERICK DELIUS 

were even greater than they had been in Gloucestershire. 
The mere act of going abroad in itself increased Fred's 
wanderlust appetite. 

In the land of his father's people, in the romantic atmo- 
sphere of the Saxony of fifty years ago, Fred entirely forgot 
the wool business. There were so many things to do; so 
many charming social functions to be attended, so many 
wonderful concerts, to which it would be obviously a crime 
to miss a chance of listening. He ceased to remember that 
he was there to learn how to represent Julius Delius, wool 
merchant of Bradford, efficiently. The more opportunities 
he had of listening to great music nobly presented, the 
more that important side of his nature was developed, until 
everything else was excluded. He rushed to Dresden, to 
Leipsig, to Berlin, eager to hear everything there was to 
hear. He was ravished by Goldmark's Konigin von Saba 
at Dresden, and thrilled to his inmost soul listening to 
Wagner's Meistersinger at Berlin. Grieg, too, and Chopin 
made the intricate mysteries of textiles seem as remote a 
subject of interest as the Flood. 

The end was inevitable. Reports from Chemnitz, while 
speaking favourably of the social charms of the volontaire, 
bluntly described his interest in business as non-existent. 
My father was furious. The usual telegram was sent recall- 
ing him immediately. I can remember so well his return, 
for it is marked in my childhood's memories, not only by 
the domestic rows that followed, but by the two memorials 
of Chemnitz he brought back with him. 

They were contained in two very intriguing pieces of 
luggage — one a large round box, which looked as though 
it might have contained a bicycle wheel, the other a ham- 
per, from which, to our great excitement, came a series of 

61 



FREDERICK DELIUS 

squeaks. Fred assembled us in the smoke-room to open 
these surprises. From the hamper when the lid was lifted 
leapt a tiny little dachshund. It was the first that was ever 
seen in Bradford, and as far as I know, in Yorkshire. It 
was of the pure bred type, differing in many particulars from 
the specimens which have been since evolved. Its body was 
enormously long, while its legs were abnormally short and 
quite bowed. When in motion, its progress suggested that of 
a snake. Fred adored it, and needless to say we children took 
it to our hearts. He was christened Rip, and the duty of 
exercising it — Fred was very particular on this point — was 
entrusted to our governess. The parade through the streets 
of Bradford, however, was not a simple business, for Rip 
was a curiosity and attracted a lot of undesired attention, 
and in his progress along the pavement he was invariably 
followed by curious crowds, making very impolite criticisms. 
It was characteristic of Fred, who always disliked attracting 
attention to himself, and in the days of his celebrity avoided 
as much as possible the public gaze, that as soon as he dis- 
covered the furore Rip created in the streets he refused to take 
him out himself. 

The other box contained a special present for us. It con- 
sisted of some of the largest biscuits I have ever seen in my 
life. They were over two feet in diameter, and had to be 
broken with a hammer. They were a special kind of cheese 
biscuit known as Knacke Brodchen. Fortunately, as a 
family, we had teeth like iron. I believe these biscuits are 
really a product of Sweden. I like to recall these souvenirs 
of his stay in Chemnitz, for they illustrate Fred's affectionate 
thought for his swarms of sisters at home. 

Chained once more to the warehouse in Bradford, Fred 
chafed against Fate. Every absence, indeed, from home only 

62 



FREDERICK DELIUS 

served to increase his dislike of business. But the problem 
was how to escape again. I imagine that my father must still 
have been thinking of Fred's success in Gloucestershire, for 
when Fred, hardly dreaming that his gesture would be re- 
ceived seriously, wanting only by hook or crook to get once 
more into a world devoted to music, proposed that he should 
be sent to Scandinavia as travelling representative for the 
firm, my father at once consented. Never, I am convinced, 
did such a curious representative of woollen interests set foot 
on those shores. The friends and acquaintances to whom he 
practically limited his attention, seeing hardly anybody else, 
were such figures in the textile world as Ibsen and Gunnar 
Heiberg, for whose satirical drama he was later to write some 
incidental music. Papa, still hoping against hope that some 
business would appear, permitted this visit to last for several 
weeks, but when finally it was made clear that not one single 
order was to be the result, he sent yet another telegram of 
recall. 

Fred was now very much in the position of an incipient 
drug-taker, deprived violently of the narcotic for which he 
had formed a taste. Bradford, for him, was worse than ever. 
That early enthusiasm which had made him determined to 
do his very best had entirely vanished. Papa watched him 
anxiously, and if lectures could have accomplished the im- 
possible, Fred would undoubtedly have ended his life as the 
head of the family business. It is difficult to trust to my 
memory for chronological exactness, but I do not think that 
up to this time Fred had actually begged my father to be re- 
leased from the business and to be allowed to take up a 
musical career. He was still young enough not to wish to 
bring the paternal thunders down upon his head unneces- 
sarily. I do not think the demand was formulated in so many 

63 



FREDERICK DELIUS 

words until after his visit to France, to which he was next 
sent. 

He was to be shadowed on this occasion by an agent of the 
firm. It was to be the business of this representative, who 
resided at St. Etienne, one of the great French manufactur- 
ing centres near Lyons, to watch the young man, and see that 
he kept seriously to business and out of mischief. Fred bore 
with the surveillance for a short time, and then unable to 
endure it any longer, bolted for Monte Carlo. His object in 
seeking that sanctuary was a simple one. Papa had the power 
of the purse, and wielding that authority was able to control 
his son to a certain extent. To escape from this bondage, 
which made the gratification of his musical tastes impossible, 
money was necessary. He had decided to take a risk at the 
tables. Monsieur Blanc's Temple of Chance has had some 
strange votaries, but few, I think, inspired by such motives as 
dominated my brother. All he wanted was money to hear 
music, and he looked to the spinning wheel and the chances 
of rouge et noir to supply him with what he needed so 
desperately. For once the Goddess of Chance did not fail. 
Fred netted a considerable sum of money, and leaving the 
tables proceeded to spend it in concerts and violin lessons. 
Once more business was entirely put aside. The agent at St. 
Etienne was in despair. He wrote to my father, and the 
culprit was ordered by wire to report at once at Bradford. 

It was then, I believe, that the first open clash between 
papa and Fred took place. Fred stated quite plainly that he 
hated the business, that he was convinced that he would 
never make a man of commerce, and pleaded that he might 
take up a musical career. When I think of all the hopes my 
father had cherished with regard to Fred, I can sympathise 
with the intensity of his disappointment without excusing 

6 4 



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CLAREMONT, THE BIRTHPLACE OF FREDERICK DELIUS 



FREDERICK DELIUS 

the attitude he took up. He met Fred's plea like a military 
martinet. He was talking nonsense. Music was no career for 
a gentleman. Dr. Johnson once called Garrick a " Punch ", 
and I think my father would have described a musical pro- 
fession as being pursued solely by " fiddlers ". That any 
child of his should be an artist was out of the question. The 
sooner he forgot all about such ridiculous nonsense the better. 
With that he was dismissed to the warehouse. 

But war had now been declared, and not all my father's 
threats and prophesies could deflect Fred for one moment 
from his ambition. Compelled to eat the bread of de- 
pendence, he made a show of pursuing his business career, 
with an ever increasing bitterness in his heart. 

Those were not pleasant days for any of us. Domestic 
disputes have a knack of overflowing on to the heads of the 
quite innocent parties in the home. My father's temper was 
in a perpetual state of friction. I know that he believed that 
he was doing his duty by Fred, as the phrase is — that he was 
acting like any wise father ought to act, in trying to wean his 
son from his folly — but the consequences were none the less 
disastrous. Fred, always so charming and engaging, became 
in his father's presence sullen and resentful. I doubt if at 
any time it is good for a young man to be cooped up at home 
and be made to feel that his social happiness depends upon 
the paternal favour. In the case of an artist like my brother, 
it was madness. 

The reader may gather what Fred had to suffer when I 
state that even after he had grown up my father tried to exer- 
cise a discipline over us which entered into the minutest 
details of our lives. Among his prejudices was a hatred of the 
pipe. He forbade any of his sons to smoke one, declaring that 
it was a low and degrading habit. If they wanted to smoke, 

e 6$ 



FREDERICK DELIUS 

they should use cigars or cigarettes, like gentlemen. Not 
that he approved of smoking at all, indeed. He thought it a 
revolting practice. Having himself given it up as a young 
man, he was, like the reformed rake, violently censorious of 
his former weakness. Friends who came to the house were 
provided with the most expensive cigars and cigarettes, but 
this was merely out of consideration for human frailty. A 
pipe, however, was blasphemy. 

Once a young man who was a guest at dinner, whom Fred 
had forgotten to warn, asked permission to smoke a pipe, 
when he was offered a cigar. Papa, too courteous to say any- 
thing, allowed him to smoke his pipe. After the guests had 
departed, however, he turned furiously on Fred and ex- 
claimed, " That young man never comes into this house 
again." Needless to say Fred smoked a pipe in secret, as an 
inevitable gesture of revolt. 

The unbridled exercise of parental authority, which must 
always be exasperating to a high spirited, sensitive young 
man, showed itself in these days in various forms, adding fuel 
to the smouldering fires. On one occasion Fred asked papa's 
permission to give a dinner party to his friends. At first my 
father refused, but being pressed, consented on conditions. 
Neither his mother nor his sisters were to be present — rather 
a galling prohibition suggesting as it did that Fred's friends 
were not fit to mix with the family. The party, however, was 
a great success. Fred, of course, played and the evening was 
at its height when the door opened and papa came into the 
room. He stood on the hearthrug with his back to the fire. 
" Good evening gentlemen," he exclaimed with a courtly 
bow, at the same time taking out his watch and glancing at 
it. This done, he again bowed and once more remarked, with 
perhaps more meaning, " Good evening, gentlemen," and 

66 



FREDERICK DELIUS 

went out of the room. What had been a gay scene became 
immediately a very depressed one, and the guests slunk hur- 
riedly out of the house. It was the repetition of such inci- 
dents that began to make Fred's life at home unbearable. 

Before the crash came, my father, anxious, I am convinced, 
to do the best for Fred, and realising that the relations exist- 
ing between them were not such as were likely to advance his 
serious study of commerce, decided to send him to Man- 
chester, where my uncle had a large business. The idea was 
that my uncle was to do what my father had failed to do — 
teach Fred the business properly. 

On his arrival, my uncle, discovering Fred's deplorable 
ignorance, decided to start him at the very bottom. After a 
few days of this, Fred went to him with a request. " You 
know, uncle," he exclaimed, " I don't much like the work I 
am doing now; I would rather do the sort of job you do." 
" All right," said my uncle, " I want to give you a chance. 
Tell me exactly what you would like to do, and I will arrange 
for you to do it." Fred, greatly daring, said he would like to 
sit in his uncle's office and for a day, at any rate, direct the 
whole business. To this quite absurd proposal, my uncle, who 
was before all things a sportsman, surprisingly consented. 
The next morning found Fred in the private office with a 
cigar and The Times, while the proprietor of the business 
occupied a seat in the general office. 

My uncle gave orders that all his employees were to refer 
everything to " Mr. Fritz ". The wool buyer, therefore, came 
and asked his advice and opinion on the wool that was being 
offered. The shipping clerk requested instructions, and the 
warehouse managers demanded to know how they should act. 
That nothing should be omitted all correspondence was 
brought to Fred, and he had to deal with it, dictating answers. 

6 7 



FREDERICK DELIUS 

Once or twice Fred sought out his uncle in the general office, 
and requested information. Though uncle supplied this in- 
formation, he refused to make any decisions for my brother, 
remarking, quite reasonably, that the head of a business must 
make the decisions himself. The end of the day found a very 
worried, harassed Fred, completely cured of any ambition 
to run a business about which he knew so little — cured finally, 
too, of any ambition to continue in business at all. When he 
returned from Manchester his mind was made up. Come 
what might he was determined to wear no longer the com- 
mercial fetters. 

This was in the winter of 1 883—1 884, when Fred had 
already come of age. Back in Bradford he made a desperate 
resolve. His father was adamant on the subject of a musical 
career as an alternative to business. But he might extort a 
reluctant consent from him to be released from the ware- 
house, if he could think of some other occupation to which 
my father would not object. The problem was to find an 
occupation which, while satisfying papa's prejudices, would 
allow him freedom to study music. 

I do not know how Fred got the absurd notion of pretend- 
ing to be an orange planter. I have seen it stated in a 
biography of my brother that he used to pore over maps and 
books of travel during this period, and that in one of these 
maps he was fascinated by the outline of Florida. I am sure 
this is quite apocryphal. I think it more likely that the 
mental process by which he arrived at his decision to take 
up orange planting was this. He wanted a climate where the 
sun was always shining, and nature lent herself to peace and 
contemplation. That point settled, the next thing was to find 
a part of the world with these climatic conditions, where he 
could be engaged nominally in an occupation of which papa 

68 



FREDERICK DELIUS 

would approve, but which would take up none of his time. 
So the conjunction of Florida and orange planting came be- 
fore his mental vision. 

Planting, of course, was a misnomer. He had no intention 
of planting anything. Oranges, so the books he consulted 
told him, grew quite naturally in Florida. He would leave 
nature to carry on the good work while he devoted himself to 
music. Having arrived at this decision he bearded my father. 

There was the inevitable scene. My father was furious. 
But Fred stuck to his guns. It was self-evident, he declared, 
that he would never learn the business. His eldest brother, 
Ernest, had been allowed to go to New Zealand to sheep 
farm, why shouldn't he be permitted to grow oranges in 
Florida? Days elapsed, during which my father became 
more reasonable. Fred had been careful to say nothing about 
music. He tried, indeed, to give the impression that to be an 
orange planter had been the ambition of his life. Dogged 
persistence won the day. With feelings that I can only too 
well appreciate, my father at last consented to see another 
son turn his back upon the family business. Fred, with the 
necessary financial provision, was to be allowed to go to 
Florida. 



6 9 



CHAPTER IV 

If Fred was delighted at the thought of his approaching 
emancipation, the prospect cast a blight upon the little 
circle in the schoolroom. I know that I was desolated at 
the thought of losing so soon the brother who had brought so 
much happiness into my life. Warm hearted and affection- 
ate, Fred endeavoured to make that separation in the early 
months of 1884 as easy as possible by leaving behind him 
pleasant memories. I recall how he took me to York to my 
first boarding school, and how homesick I was when he bade 
me good-bye. That was in January. In March he paid me a 
flying visit to make his last farewells, taking me out for the 
whole day. While we were wandering about the old city, 
having our last intimate talk, we met the school ' crocodile ', 
which immediately, en masse, fell in love with Fred. For a 
while I was the most popular girl in the school ! Our final 
farewells took place in the school itself, and then he was gone, 
leaving behind him a very tearful child. I was not to see him 
for many years. That same month he set sail on the Cunard 
liner Gallia for New York, en route for Florida. 

Florida was the name originally given by Juan Ponce de 
Lion to the whole continent of North America, it having 
been discovered on Pasque Florida, the feast of Palm Sunday 
in 151 2. Gradually, however, the name became restricted to 
the territory of the present state. The Spaniards kept 
possession of Florida until 1 763, when it was ceded to Eng- 
land. It was reconquered by the Spaniards in 1781 and re- 
mained in their hands under the terms of the peace treaty of 

70 



FREDERICK DELIUS 

1783. In 1 8 19 overtures were made to Spain by the United 
States government for the cession of the territory, but though 
this cession was ratified in a treaty, it was not until two years 
later that the Americans took over the occupation by force 
of arms. I may mention here, for it has a bearing upon one 
of my brother's operas, that Florida at this time was divided 
into East Florida — the peninsula — and West Florida, the 
two territories being separated by the river Appalachicola. 
Forty years before my brother settled there a large portion of 
the peninsula, especially along its western coast, was still in 
possession of an Indian tribe, the Seminoles, and a state of 
war existed for a long time between the Redskins and the 
Whites. At the time of the Civil War there were some twenty 
thousand negro slaves in Florida. When Fred landed 
there the remnants of the old Spanish civilisation were still 
extant. 

Solano Grove was the name of the plantation. It was 
rented by my father in the first instance with, I believe, an 
option for purchase, paternal optimism suggesting in defiance 
of all experience that Fred might ' make good \ It was an 
old Spanish plantation, romantically situated on the banks 
of the St. John's river, which was here several miles wide. 
All around were acres and acres of semi-tropical vegetation. 
The river and the barrier of forests shut him off from the 
world outside. It was an ideal situation for Fred, who wanted 
time to dream and think, but was quite unsuited to the object 
which my father had at heart of making of his son a pros- 
perous business man, who might, in the orange trade, win 
those spurs which he had allowed to grow so deplorably rusty 
in the business of bartering wool. 

His house was a little wooden shanty, consisting of four 
rooms, standing on a bluff overlooking the river. When he 

7i 



FREDERICK DELIUS 

first arrived he had no servant, and had to do all his own 
domestic chores including cooking. As he disliked the prac- 
tice of the culinary art he lived for the most part on canned 
foods. 

From the letters he wrote me, I really believe that Fred was 
for a brief time bitten with the spirit of filial remorse. He 
seems to have thought that he might " do something " with 
oranges. He supplied me with facts about the fruit which still 
linger in my memory — how the blood orange was supposed 
to be a diseased orange — how for years they were thrown 
away until someone happened to eat one and discovered its 
delicious sweetness in flavour, after which they were culti- 
vated. 

He developed a great dislike of rattlesnakes, with which 
the woods abounded. Once, when he was out with his negro 
overseer, hunting for quail, the man caught him by the arm 
and pulled him violently backwards. He had just been about 
to step on a huge rattlesnake. Had he done so, there would 
have been no Delius, and the world would never have known 
his music. He described to me how he once saw a rattlesnake 
hypnotise a poor little rabbit. He stood and watched to see 
what would happen. The rattlesnake drew the fascinated 
rabbit nearer and nearer to itself until of its own volition the 
animal plunged into the snake's capacious jaws. At this point 
Fred shot the rattlesnake, and pulled the little rabbit out of 
its mouth. The rabbit, recovered from its state of hypnosis, 
ran away quite unhurt. Among the bizarre relics that he 
brought back from America was a box of " rattles " and a 
cigar case made of human skin, which had been presented 
to him by an Indian. Though there were no Red Indians 
living near Solano, he spoke to several of them in other parts 
and was struck by their extreme courtesy and good breeding. 

72 



FREDERICK DELIUS 

If left alone, he always declared, the Redskin would be a 
gentleman. 

But the illusion that he might make something of orange 
planting soon faded. He was now having for the first time in 
his life that peace and seclusion in which his musical genius 
could blossom. Here there was no distraction; here he could 
forget everything, except the beauty of sound. For months 
he saw not one single white man. He told my brother-in-law 
that his first contact with anybody of his own colour was a 
curious experience. One evening he heard the sound of oars 
and the voice of a man singing in English. He ran down to 
the river bank, all eager to welcome this stranger. A dilapi- 
dated boat came out of the gloom, and a still more dilapi- 
dated figure stepped ashore. To his astonishment he saw that 
it was his brother Ernest, who had made the long journey to 
Solano in the hope of " touching" Fred for some much 
needed cash. 

It has been said, and said quite truthfully, that Solano 
Grove was too near the frost line for it ever to have become a 
successful orange plantation. But had the climatic conditions 
been perfect, Fred would never have made it a success. Be- 
fore the autumn of 1884, his interest in oranges had vanished 
completely. He had found an old negro, a quondam slave, 
with his wife, to lift the burden of running the bungalow off 
him, and an overseer and a few negro employees attended to 
the oranges. Fritz merely dreamed. Mr. Charles Douglas, 
who visited him at this time, has told me that the only instru- 
ment he had in the house was his violin. On this he was 
very fond of playing Carmen. There was no piano in the 
house, and without a piano he felt that his wings were clipped. 
He suddenly determined that this omission must be rectified. 

The nearest town where he could buy what he wanted was 

73 



FREDERICK DELIUS 

then Jacksonville, three days' journey away on the St. John's 
river. He determined to make the journey. On arriving there 
he visited the chief store, and began to try the various pianos 
offered for sale. A Mr. Ward, a well-known musician of 
Jacksonville, who was the organist at the principal church, 
attracted by the marvellous harmonies that proceeded from 
that store, entered the premises to discover who was respon- 
sible. Thus began a very close and very remarkable friend- 
ship, and Fred has often told me in after years how he learned 
more from Mr. Ward than he ever learned from anybody 
else. 

It was arranged that the piano Fred chose should be sent to 
Solano, and Fred asked Mr. Ward, who was in very delicate 
health, to come back with him and stay with him for a time. 
Ward was some nine years older than Delius, and a master 
of musical technique. The visit, which was to have been a 
short one, was extended to a period of almost six months. 
For Fred, it was one of those miraculous happenings which 
come too rarely into people's lives, for it was undoubtedly 
during those six months that he was able to cover most of the 
groundwork in the technique of composition. I often try to 
picture that little wooden bungalow, and the piano acquired 
with such difficulty, and the two friends, serenely oblivious 
of the oranges, giving all their hearts and minds and souls 
to music. I would much sooner possess a picture of Fred with 
his friend, Thomas F. Ward, in the close intimacy of Solano 
Grove, perfecting his art, than the one which was to create 
such a sentimental appeal from the walls of the Royal 
Academy, years later. 

Meanwhile, as Fred pursued the study of counterpoint 
under Ward's tuition, starting the first thing in the morning 
and working sometimes until far into the night, time was 

74 



FREDERICK DELIUS 



slipping by. The year 1884 faded into 1885. Over in Brad- 
ford there was an increasing uneasiness. For nearly six 
months Fred's never very frequent letters had ceased alto- 
gether. My father began to grow anxious. While Ward was 
staying at Solano, Fred seems to have forgotten everything 
except his pursuit of musical knowledge. It was the first time 
he had been able to get his teeth into, as the phrase is, the 
study of music, and all other interests were completely 
eclipsed. In vain my father tried to tell himself that oranges 
were becoming such an engrossing subject with Fred — that 
the trade must be becoming so brisk — that he had no time 
to put pen to paper. And then in the early months of 1885 
came the shattering news. 

Once more my father's illusions were scattered to the four 
winds. Fred wrote to say that he had taken up the serious 
study of music with a friend — that he had made so much 
progress and was so confident of the future that he now re- 
garded orange planting as a mere background to his exist- 
ence. My father's reply to that — needless to say he was very 
angry — was to exercise the option he had secured and to pur- 
chase Solano Grove. He fondly believed that by doing so 
he would make Fred's pursuit of the orange industry some- 
thing from which he could not escape. But his endeavours 
to control the destinies of his son did not end there. He 
determined to send somebody whom he could trust over to 
Florida to report on the situation, and to read at second hand 
the riot act which he was unable to pronounce in person. Mr. 
Sucksmith, who had always had a great admiration for Fred, 
was originally selected for this uncongenial task, but as at the 
last moment he was unable to go a Mr. Tattersfield was sent 
in his place. 

I do not know what Mr. Tattersfield expected to find. 

75 



FREDERICK DELIUS 

Probably on the voyage over he pictured an orange plantation 
over which a very languid, uninterested Fred presided. He 
may have figured the possibility of inspiring my brother with 
some of his own West Riding energy — of making him take 
his coat off to the job, and finally producing a state of 
affairs in which briskness and energy should take the place 
of laisser-faire and slackness. What he found was something 
quite different to the situation of his dream. 

There was nothing of the lazy, self-indulgent young man 
about the master of Solano Grove, his energy sapped by the 
luxurious warmth of the climate. He was not the white man 
gone semi-native, lost in self-indulgence, living from day to 
day and taking no thought for the future. Instead he found 
Fred bubbling over with a furious energy, immensely vital 
and completely absorbed — but alas, not in oranges ! He was 
playing the piano when Mr. Tattersfield entered the bunga- 
low, and he continued to play the piano, or to work at his 
musical studies, except when he was acting the part of host, 
all the time Mr. Tattersfield was there. About the prospects 
of the orange plantation as a business he refused to talk. The 
whole of the Atlantic was between him and the paternal 
thunders, and my father could not make his influence felt by 
deputy. 

Mr. Tattersfield duly reported that when Fred was not 
playing the piano or engaged in the study of counterpoint, he 
spent most of his time on the river in his boat, accompanied 
by his old nigger servant, whose duty it was to play to him on 
the banjo some of the old slave songs. Every evening, too, 
the same old nigger was summoned to the veranda, where 
he would sing to Fred old plantation melodies, one of which, 
" Oh, Honey, I am going down the river in the morning ", is 
introduced into Appalacia. 

7 6 



FREDERICK DELIUS 

The management of the orange plantation did not figure 
even as a recreation for such idle moments as he permitted 
himself. When he needed relaxation, he would indulge in 
alligator shooting. Going out at night on to the river he 
would be accompanied by a crew of niggers, one of whom 
would have a lamp tied round his head in the manner of the 
spot light used by surgeons during operations. By this light 
Fred would be able to see the eyes of the alligators which 
shone in the night like jewels, and his gun would do the rest. 
Wild-duck shooting was also another recreation, though this 
was abandoned when Fred contracted a dose of malaria 
through being on the river at night. 

My brother gave me a picture of his establishment about 
this time of Mr. Tattersfield's visit, which I may reproduce 
here. The nigger woman, the wife of the quondam slave, was 
the presiding goddess of the bungalow. Her name was Mary. 
Though she did her work very well and was an excellent cook, 
she had one weakness. She could not distinguish between 
meum and tuum. This weakness was particularly noticeable 
with regard to Fred's laundry. One week the handkerchiefs 
which went to the washing tub fourteen strong were returned 
by Mary as three. Though Fred was most easy going and 
kind, this was more than he could bear. Being miles away 
from any shops, he was liable at such a rate to be left without 
any linen at all within a very short period. Something had to 
be done about it, for she was taking away his wardrobe on 
the instalment system. 

Summoned before him, Fred asked her gravely, " Mary, 
where are the remaining eleven handkerchiefs? " Mary re- 
garded him with big, dark eyes of innocence. " Master, I 
brought them back this morning.'' Fred's patience was ex- 
hausted. " I sent fourteen, and you brought back only three. 

77 



FREDERICK DELIUS 

Where are the others? " Mary protested, "fore de Lord/' 
that she had brought back every handkerchief that she had 
had, and persisted stubbornly in this statement. Fred grew 
more angry. He gave her a very long and furious lecture. So 
unaccustomed was she to be treated by the master in this way, 
that she burst into tears, still insisting through her sobs that 
the handkerchiefs were all there. Fred decided on an ulti- 
matum. " Well, Mary," he exclaimed, " you'd better go, and 
I'll get somebody else to do my washing." The effect of this 
sentence was instantaneous. Mary put her hand into her 
voluminous blouse and produced the missing eleven, and, 
with a wide smile which showed all her beautiful teeth, 
handed them to Fred, saying, " Oh, Sah, you are a funny 
gentleman ! " After this, Mary, though still ' inferior 
honest ' was never again so wholesale in her depredations. 
Like all other darkies of the establishment, she found life at 
Solano Grove particularly entrancing because of the music 
that Fritz produced day and night. 

The only effect of Mr. Tattersfield's visit was a letter from 
Fred to my father, begging him that he might be allowed to 
proceed to Leipzig to study music. Mr. Ward, I rather 
gather, was as modest about his powers as a teacher as he was 
brilliant as an instructor. He seems to have realised from the 
very first Fred's genius, and with a rare humility to have 
thought himself incapable of teaching him all he ought to 
know. Fred in after years questioned if this were really so, 
and I got the impression that he felt he could have acquired 
the technical knowledge he needed as a composer just as well 
at the feet of Ward as at Leipzig. But Ward himself having 
suggested that he should finish his musical training in Ger- 
many, Fred propounded the proposal to my father. 

It was turned down, of course. I do not know what my 

78 



FREDERICK DELIUS 

father wrote in reply, but his tone must have been so final 
that Fred determined to take his life into his own hands. 
There was the question of the orange plantation. My father 
had bought it, and Fred hesitated to abandon it in these cir- 
cumstances. To sell it while his father was alive would seem 
like a breach of trust. In this crisis Fate sent him again my 
brother Ernest — this time complete with a keg of whisky ! 
Once more hard up — Ernest was always a rolling stone, who 
accepted life as it came and lived strictly according to the 
Scriptural dictum about taking no thought for the morrow — 
he sought out Fred to get some relief for his empty pockets. 
Never was a would-be borrower met with more enthusiasm. 
It is true that there was very little money, for the purse strings 
in Bradford had been practically closed, but there was a 
pleasant house, a complete orange plantation, all the darkie 
labour that was required, and in short what Dr. Johnson 
would have called, " the potentialities of wealth ". Fred ex- 
plained the situation at great length. Some member of the 
family must, in decency, be left to look after papa's property. 
Ernest wanted something to do, and here was the very job 
for him. Nature did most of the work, and the darkies did 
the rest. For himself, all he asked was to get away and make 
himself financially independent. 

Ernest closed eagerly with the offer. He seems to have 
thought it, perhaps because of Fred's glowing periods, the 
very job for which he had been looking, far more congenial 
than the sheep farming in New Zealand which had not been 
a bit successful. Fred eagerly handed over, shook Ernest by 
the hand, and vanished from Solano Grove. I may as well 
here complete the history of the plantation as far as it con- 
cerned our family. Left alone in occupation, Ernest conceived 
the idea that it might be a good scheme to grow tomatoes, as 

79 



FREDERICK DELIUS 

well as oranges. For a few days he worked hard enough for 
two men, and then suddenly decided, the keg of whisky 
having been exhausted, that he had had enough of planta- 
tion life. His boat was still tied to the bank. He got into it 
and vanished down the St. John's river, nobody knows for 
certain where. He was heard of in Sumatra some years later 
and apparently finally made his way back to New Zealand, 
from which country the news of his death reached the family. 
I can't help thinking that Ernest's spoilt life was due largely 
to my father's mistaken habit of trying to shape his children, 
especially his sons, instead of allowing them to live their own 
lives. My grandmother always said that Ernest, like Fred, 
was a most brilliant boy with an outstanding talent for music, 
and the same extraordinary gift for improvisation that Fred 
had. It is possible that had he been more wisely treated he 
might have made some mark on the world. It is dreadful to 
think that but for happy accidents Fred's life might have 
been spoilt in the same way. 

Fred never seems to have regarded Solano Grove in those 
days as his own personal property, though it had been con- 
veyed to him with due forms of law. It was papa's money 
which had purchased it, and that money had been spent 
with the avowed object of keeping his life within the limits 
of commerce. Looking back on those days in after years 
Fred's attitude towards them varied, as is so often the case 
with the memories of youth, according to his mood. " Every 
artist," he declared, " should go out into the wilderness. 
Only in that way had he been able to learn complete 
emotional expression." " I was also in the wilderness in 
Florida and since have never been able to live long in a 
crowd," he wrote to Heseltine in 1918; but " wildernesses ", 
and one's experiences there, are all very well in retrospect. 

80 



FREDERICK DELIUS 

Fred only went back to his particular desert of loneliness 
once, it may be noted. That was in 1 898, when he paid a visit 
to the plantation accompanied by his friend Halfdam Jebe, a 
brilliant violinist and a born wanderer, who used to travel 
the world with his violin like some medieval troubadour re- 
lying on his skill with the instrument to keep him, wherever 
he went. Solano Grove was, I am convinced, in the first 
instance, merely an escape from the wool trade. Nearly any 
place, provided it was far enough away to make a paternal 
inquisition impossible, would have satisfied Fred, and it is a 
fact that as soon as he made contact with the world of music 
again through Ward, he hastened to shake the sands of the 
wilderness off his feet. 

Mr. Cecil Gray, in his admirable biography of Peter War- 
lock, describes the very different angle from which Fred re- 
garded Solano Grove in another mood. It was the year 19 15. 
D. H. Lawrence had come to the conclusion that he could no 
longer endure England. He proposed to leave for America 
immediately, there to establish a colony of escape where he 
could live his life free from the entanglements of a world gone 
mad. Mr. Aldous Huxley, in a memorable passage in his 
introduction to the letters of D. H. Lawrence, has described 
the scene in which this proposal was mooted. 

" To those who knew Lawrence, not why, but that he was 
what he happened to be, is the important fact. I remember 
very clearly my first meeting with him. The place was Lon- 
don, the time 19 15. But Lawrence's passionate talk was of 
the geographically remote and of the personally very near. 
Of the horrors in the middle distance — war, winter, the 
town — he would not speak. For he was on the point, so he 
imagined, of setting off to Florida — to Florida, where he was 
going to plant that colony of escape, of which up to the last 

F 8.1 



FREDERICK DELIUS 

he never ceased to dream. Sometimes the name and site of 
this seed of a happier and different world were purely 
fanciful. It was called Rananim, for example, and was an 
island like Prospero's. Sometimes it had its place on the map 
and its name was Florida, Cornwall, Sicily, Mexico and again, 
for a time, the English countryside. That wintry afternoon 
in 19 15 it was Florida. Before tea was over he asked me if 
I would join the colony, and though I was an intellectually 
cautious man, not at all inclined to enthusiasms, though 
Lawrence had startled and embarrassed me with sincerities 
of a kind to which my upbringing had not accustomed me, 
I answered yes. 

" Fortunately, no doubt, the Florida scheme fell through. 
Cities of God have always crumbled; and Lawrence's city — 
his village, rather, for he hated cities — his Village of the 
Dark God would doubtless have disintegrated like all the rest. 
It was better that it should have remained, as it was always 
to remain, a project and a hope. And I knew this even as I 
said I would join the colony." 

The question was where should the colony of escape be 
founded? While listening to the outline of the scheme, 
which never materialised because of the difficulty of obtain- 
ing passports during the war, and on account of financial 
considerations, Heseltine, who as a boy had met Fred at 
Grez and become his unswerving friend and admirer, recalled 
the Florida episode in his hero's life. What Solano Grove 
had been to my brother, why should it not be to D. H. 
Lawrence, Aldous Huxley and himself? He wrote off in a 
burst of enthusiasm to Fred, inquiring whether they might 
use Solano Grove for their settlement. Lawrence, he urged, 
might there have the peace necessary for the development of 
his great literary genius. 

83 



FREDERICK DELIUS 

Fred's answer must have been very depressing. After 
twenty years of neglect, he suggested, his orange grove would 
be little better than a wilderness of weeds and untended 
plants. The house where he had spent those wonderful 
months with Ward had more than likely collapsed. But 
quite apart from these considerations — even if Solano Grove 
had remained exactly the same as when he was its occupant 
— he would strongly advise Lawrence not to settle there. 
Then he went on to describe all the inconveniences and draw- 
backs of his wilderness. It was five miles from the nearest 
stores, and as a consequence living was enormously expensive. 
The isolation was complete. The only food obtainable was 
in tins. He concluded his discouraging letter by stating that 
to let Lawrence go to Solano would be sending him to 
disaster. 

What happened to Solano Grove? The manager, Alvarez, 
left alone after Ernest's departure, carried on for a while, 
ultimately sending my father forty dollars as the proceeds 
of his trading. Then silence. In 1924 Fred told me that he 
had practically given the place to a relative of Dr. Haym's, 
the musical director at Elberfeld, and my brother added that 
he believed the present occupant of the Grove had turned it 
into a tobacco plantation. Learning that I was anxious to 
secure some information about the place which figured so 
largely in Fred's life, for it was there he found his soul, Mr. 
Lewis Day of Chicago generously offered to institute in- 
quiries. After making a journey of some three hundred miles 
he drew a complete blank. There was no trace of the house 
where my brother had lived, and all recollection of him had 
faded from the neighbourhood. It would almost seem as if 
what he had suggested to Philip Heseltine had proved to be 
a fact — that uncared for and unattended, the shack where he 

83 



FREDERICK DELIUS 

had spent those momentous months, where he had worked 
so strenuously with Ward, had crumbled away into dust. 

It was in August, 1885, that Fred left Solano Grove and 
went to Jacksonville. Here, through the friendly efforts of 
Ward, he set up as a teacher of music. There was not much 
money to be earned in this way, but he managed to keep his 
head above water, adding to his very slender income by some- 
times playing the organ at a Jewish Synagogue. In the late 
September of the same year he saw an advertisement in a 
paper, setting out that Professor Ruckert of Danville, Vir- 
ginia, required a music teacher for his two daughters. There 
was no pay attached to the post, though I rather think there 
may have been certain perquisites in the shape of free meals, 
but Ruckert promised to use his influence to secure for the 
successful applicant a number of other pupils in Danville. 
Fred desperately decided to take the job. On the face of it 
the advertisement looked like an attempt to get something 
for nothing. In the vast majority of such cases where the lure 
held out is merely a promise of work, such promises have a 
knack of never materialising. But Fred was in luck. Pro- 
fessor Ruckert was the grand exception. On the day Fred 
arrived at Danville — he had great difficulty in raising the 
money for the journey of several hundred miles — the news- 
papers were splashed with advertisements in large type 
announcing the fact that the " celebrated and well-known 
musician, Professor Delius, had arrived in the home town 
and was open to give lessons to a selected number of musical 
aspirants ". 

To his astonishment Fred found himself inundated with 
applications from the owners of the surrounding plantations, 
asking him to undertake the musical education of their 
daughters. He had arrived in Danville with precisely one 

84 



FREDERICK DELIUS 



dollar in his pocket. In a few weeks he was earning quite a 
reputable income by initiating selected members of the 
female population in the mysteries of music. Mr. Philip 
Heseltine in his Life of my brother, published in 1923, says, 
* He was at this time a very capable violinist — shortly after 
his arrival in Danville he performed the Mendelssohn Violin 
Concerto with conspicuous success at a concert given by the 
Young Ladies' Baptist College — and on the piano he had 
developed, all untaught, a very efficient technique of his own 
which was destroyed at Leipzig when it became necessary 
for him to learn the orthodox technique of piano-playing." 

The charm which my father had once hoped might prove 
an asset in the wool business stood him in good stead in Dan- 
ville. He was received everywhere, and was a great social 
success. Through the kindness of Mr. Gerard Tetley, to 
whom I am deeply indebted, I have been able to pick up 
some of the threads of my brother's life in Danville, even 
after all these years. I should mention that Mr. Gerard 
Tetley is a son of Mr. George Tetley of Leeds, well known 
for his great musical gifts as an organist and a cellist, and as 
a personal friend of the late Sir Arthur Sullivan. Mr. Gerard 
Tetley, who is a nephew by marriage of Ford Maddox 
Hueffer, settled in Virgina some twenty odd years ago. Hear- 
ing that I was seeking information about my brother's life 
in Danville, he, as a fellow Yorkshireman and a lover of 
music, generously went to infinite trouble to make contacts 
with those who had known Fred. Almost half a century has 
elapsed, but in spite of this there were still living in Danville 
certain ladies who vividly remembered my brother. 

Mrs. Glenn Hunt, formerly Miss Kate Watkins, who lives 
at South Boston and is now a widow, referred to Fred delight- 
fully as " one of my early sweethearts ". She said that she 

85 



FREDERICK DELIUS 

was a pupil of his while she was attending the Roanoke 
Female College, and spoke with pride of the fact that she 
was awarded a medal by Delius for proficiency on the violin. 
It is easy to see from this slight reminiscence that Fred's 
social charm was an important factor in his career at 
Danville. 

Miss Janie Averett, now, I believe, in her seventieth year, 
remembers him well. She knew him through her brother, 
Taylor Averett, with whom Fred corresponded after leaving 
Danville. Miss Averett's father was one of the owners of 
Roanoke Female College, 'A Finishing School for Young 
Women of the Baptist Denomination ', where Fred was 
employed as a teacher of the piano, violin and theory. Miss 
Averett still cherishes a small picture of my brother, auto- 
graphed by him, taken in Leipzig very soon after he left 
Danville. 

As recently as 1928 Fred wrote to her from Grez, 
recalling old times in Danville and making inquiries about 
his friends there. In the course of this letter, which the laws 
of copyright unfortunately prevent me from reproducing, 
he mentions that he was in poor health and was losing his 
sight, and how great a solace he found in the wireless. 

The most interesting contact which Mr. Gerard Tetley 
succeeded in reviving was Mrs. Belle McGehee Phifer, aged 
eighty-five, the widow of Robert S. Phifer, who changed the 
spelling of the old German family Pfeiffer for the sake of 
convenience. She lives in one of those famous Virginian 
ancestral homes in the heart of the tobacco country in Person 
County, N.C., about thirty miles from Danville. As soon 
as Fred's name was mentioned she began eagerly to revive 
the memories of former days. I cannot do better than quote 
her own words. 

86 



FREDERICK DELIUS 

" Mr. Fritz Delius charmed all of us. He was very modest, 
and he was liked by everyone because of his nice manners. 
I do not think he had any prior engagement in Danville. As 
I recall it his father had bought an orange grove for him 
somewhere in Florida, but he was not happy there and 
wanted to become a musician. He grew tired of Florida and 
was on his way to New York when he landed in Danville. 
He did not have anything except a violin. [This confirms 
the fact that when Fred reached Danville he was almost com- 
pletely at the end of his resources.] My husband was looked 
upon as the leading musician in Danville — in fact, he really 
established the classical movement in Danville, and Mr. 
Delius was directed to him. On hearing him play, Mr. 
Phifer was at once conscious of a musical ability of the first 
water, and their friendship was almost immediate. He spent 
most of his time at our house. My husband secured him a 
position in the college, and he did very well there. He also 
had private pupils, and he gave French and German lessons 
in several private houses. 

" My husband delighted to talk about him and talk with 
him. He used to tell me ' That man has music in his mind, 
and when he sets it down it is almost impossible to play it.' 
He used to have musical evenings at my home, where Dan- 
ville people, who really derived comfort from good music, 
assembled. Mr. Delius and my husband played a good deal 
together and he used to talk about his ideas of harmonic 
progressions, which were highly involved." 

Mrs. Phifer also added some other particulars of interest. 
Her husband, she declared, recognising Fred's musical 
genius, urged him to go back to Europe to study, which of 
course was what Fred desired. Mr. Phifer even went so far 
as to write privately to my father, urging him not to oppose 

8 7 



FREDERICK DELIUS 

any longer Fred's longing for a musical career. After my 
brother left Danville he kept up a correspondence with Mr. 
Phifer for many years. 

In the course of these memories I have mentioned how 
Fred, some dozen years after he had left America, revisited 
the country and made a pilgrimage to Solano Grove. What 
I did not know, until Mrs. Phifer mentioned it, was that 
during this trip he returned to Danville, " and stayed at the 
Burton Hotel there for several months composing music ". 
Mrs. Phifer's son, Mr. R. S. Phifer, amplified this recollection 
by mentioning that Fred appeared at a concert given at the 
Danville College for Young Ladies, (Methodist), being ac- 
companied in his performance on this occasion by a Russian 
violinist named Leminoff, and a Russian soprano, who was 
understood to be a Russian princess. Mrs. Phifer, it may be 
noted, does not endorse the story about Professor Ruckert. 
According to her Fred merely drifted into Danville on his 
way to New York, spent most of the time with her husband, 
and derived most of the professional fees he managed to pick 
up through Mr. Phifer's assistance and patronage. 

Though he had arrived almost penniless in the town, the 
fees he earned soon amounted to a considerable sum. Many 
young men might have been intoxicated by this material 
success and diverted from their ambition. But money to 
Fred only meant a means to an end. Those daughters of 
the wealthy classes to whom he gave instruction in the piano 
and the violin were for him merely instruments for helping 
him forward on the career upon which his vision was set. 
Financial independence would make possible that course of 
study in Leipzig upon which his friend Ward had insisted, 
and which my father refused to permit. Danville, in short, 
was only a stepping stone, and though he had endeared him- 

88 



FREDERICK DELIUS 

self to the people, and was everywhere received as an 
honoured guest — though for the first time in his life he was 
earning money independently of my father's interests — he 
seized the first opportunity that presented itself of getting 
nearer to his goal. 

In connection with the next step he took I must make a 
confession. Neither I, nor any member of the family whom 
I have consulted, were aware that Fred had learned the organ. 
I imagine that it must have been at Jacksonville and Dan- 
ville that he acquired a sufficient mastery of that instrument 
to enable him to qualify for the post that he secured. Some- 
body in Danville informed him that there was a vacancy in 
a New York church for an organist. It was an easy matter 
for Fred — the much admired ' Professor Delius ' of Danville 
— to secure the necessary testimonials and credentials. His 
application was accepted and he set off for New York, from 
which he would be able so much more easily to make the 
final trip to Europe and Leipzig, when he had accumulated 
sufficient funds. 

He continued to prosper. His post as organist brought him 
in a regular salary, to which he was able to add by giving 
lessons. He was no longer a ' remittance man ', dependent 
upon an allowance paid regularly from home. He was stand- 
ing on his own feet, and though he may have found it difficult 
to save much, he was still putting by money for the great 
object of his life. 

My father had cut off supplies. I question whether this 
was entirely a disciplinary act, though my father may have 
thought that the power of the purse could be reasonably 
exercised in the case of a young man so foolishly and wilfully 
flying in the face of Providence. But the fact is my father 
had no idea where Fred was. The transaction by which Fred 

8 9 



FREDERICK DELIUS 

had handed Solano Grove over to Ernest, lock, stock and 
barrel, never came to his knowledge until months later, by 
which time Ernest had left the plantation to its own devices 
under the care of the overseer. Fred had vanished into space, 
as far as the family were concerned. 

For a while my father played the part of the stage parent, 
who in the days of the old melodrama invariably sought to 
teach his children a lesson by cutting them off with a shilling, 
and generally making life unpleasant for them. Fred must 
be taught sense. As he had made his bed, so he must lie on 
it. He had given him every opportunity that an indulgent 
parent could — he had offered him a share in a prosperous 
business — he had spent money in setting him up as an orange 
planter; and all these sacrifices had been in vain. Fred had 
taken the bit between his teeth, and folly could only be re- 
strained by the hard lessons of experience. 

But though my father was outwardly a domestic Hitler, 
he was a deeply affectionate man. Had Fred chosen to play 
the part of the Prodigal Son, whole herds of fatted calves 
would have been sacrificed at Claremont in honour of his 
return. When Fred showed no signs of figuring in this role — 
when his continued silence made it doubtful whether he was 
alive or not — my father's paternal affection came uppermost. 
He forgot the tag about the bed of Fred's making and the 
necessity of lying in it, if he were ever to be made a reason- 
able man. He became abruptly the very anxious, affection- 
ate father. 

Where was Fred? What had happened? He had now 
learned of his flight from Solano Grove. To exist any longer 
without knowing the fate that had overtaken his errant son 
was impossible. He wrote letters. He managed to trace Fred 
as far as Jacksonville, but there the trail, as far as it could be 

90 



FREDERICK DELIUS 

picked up from Bradford, ceased. My father's anxiety be- 
came still more pronounced. 

The only resource open to him was to employ detectives. 
An American firm of private inquiry agents was supplied 
with a description of Fred, and with as much information as 
was available about his movements. If he were found, he 
was to be told that his father, while still clinging to his views 
that music as a career was an absurdity, would permit him to 
study at Leipzig, if only he would make contact with the 
family again. I think it was very characteristic of our father 
that he insisted on my mother setting down this decision in 
writing, in a letter which was to be delivered to Fred when 
found, instead of communicating his change of view in per- 
son. He did not care to figure as the affectionate father, who 
was bending before the will of an indomitable son! 

Several weeks elapsed before Fred was run to earth. He 
was traced from Jacksonville to Danville, and from Danville 
to New York. There, eventually, he was found, and the news 
was flashed by cable to Bradford. That Fred should be earn- 
ing his living as an organist seemed almost incredible to 
my father. It shook him badly. The quite absurd pride, 
which made him regard the practice of music as a degrading 
profession, not fit for gentlemen, was outraged. Better a 
thousand times Leipzig, where one could be pursuing the 
study of music as a useful branch of the culture essential 
to an educated gentleman, than playing for money in a New 
York church ! That anything could come from a period at 
Leipzig he never believed for a moment. It was a whim of 
Fred's, which he was now prepared to humour rather than 
endure any longer the anxiety of being cut off from his son 
altogether. 

After Leipzig. . . . Well, he would see ! Time, he was con- 

9* 



FREDERICK DELIUS 

vinced, was on his side. Fred would learn sense and realise 
that he had no future in this nonsensical musical career. 
There was still a chance of his returning to the Bradford fold 
and taking his place in the warehouse. It went very much 
against the grain to make this concession to a self-willed son, 
but having out of his affection been compelled to yield so 
much, there was no excuse for shillyshallying. Swallowing 
his pride — and knowing my father for what he was, I can 
realise what this cost him ! — he provided the necessary funds 
for Fred's release from America. 

Towards the end of June in 1886, Fred sailed for Liverpool 
on the Aurania. By the beginning of August he had begun 
his residence at Leipzig. 



92 



CHAPTER V 

My brother was twenty-four years of age when his 
name was recorded on the students' roll of the 
Conservatorium at Leipzig. Behind him were the 
fragments of a commercial career, a nodding acquaintance 
with oranges and, what really mattered, all those important 
months he had spent in the company of Mr. Ward. He had 
worked, struggled and come very near starving in order to 
reach this Mecca of the musical world — and he was there less 
than two years, a good part of which time was spent in 
Norway. 

I saw nothing of my brother during this period, but I heard 
a great deal about these student days from what may be 
called the paternal angle. In the face of all disappointments 
my father clung to the belief that Fred would now at last 
learn sense. Not only did he think it undesirable that my 
brother should take up music as a career, but he did not credit 
him with any gift for making that career a success. He 
imagined that in making contact at the age of twenty-four 
for the first time with the serious study of music Fred would 
have his eyes opened, and learning his limitations, return to 
the Bradford fold a chastened, but a wiser, young man. 
I think he even regretted that they had not sent him to 
Leipzig earlier, so that he could have got over his malady 
sooner ! 

Meanwhile he paid him his allowance and waited for the 
inevitable to happen. Again and again we were given to 
understand that in a very short time he would have Fred, 

93 



FREDERICK DELIUS 

some of the most important years of his life wasted in irre- 
sponsible follies, back on his hands. 

Meanwhile Fred devoted himself heart and soul to taking 
full advantage of the opportunity which had so miraculously 
come his way. He was there to acquire the technique of his 
art, to build on the groundwork so admirably laid by Mr. 
Ward. He thought of music and nothing but music. It is 
recorded by his friend, Philip Heseltine, that " all his days 
and a good part of his nights were spent in music, writing 
music, playing music and talking music." He heard Brahms 
and Tchaikovsky conduct performances of their own works, 
and he soaked himself in Wagner, to which he listened at 
the Opera House. His principal instructors were Reinecke, 
then an old man who was official pianist to the Danish Court, 
Hans Sitt, and Jadassohn, who had been a pupil of Liszt. 

One episode in his commercial career now stood him in 
good stead — was, indeed, to have an immense influence upon 
his life. I have mentioned his visit to Norway as a repre- 
sentative of Delius and Co., Wool and Noil Merchants. 
During that trip he had made many literary and artistic 
friends, and had acquired a working acquaintance with 
Norwegian. At Leipzig there were several Norwegian stu- 
dents and in his intercourse with them and from his study 
of Norwegian literature he perfected his knowledge of the 
language. The Conservatorium being closed in the summer 
of 1887, he started off for a walking tour through Norway. 
The friendships he made during that tour were continued 
when he returned to Leipzig, and through one of these 
friends he was introduced to Grieg, when the latter paid a 
visit to the city the following winter. 

Grieg was then in his forty-fourth year, and though 
approaching the heyday of his own popularity, he showed a 

94 



FREDERICK DELIUS 

generous appreciation from the first of my brother's still 
latent genius. The friendship that was then established lasted 
unspoiled until Grieg's death in 1907. It was Grieg, indeed, 
who may be said to have arranged for the first production of 
one of my brother's works, though the excellence of his 
intentions was marred by his still more abundant hospitality. 

On the Christmas eve of that year he arranged a party, to 
which Fred, Christian Sinding and Halvorsen were invited. 
They were each to bring a composition with them which was 
to be performed after the supper. The supper, however, was 
too good and neither the musicians who were to perform 
nor the musicians who were to criticise were in a fit state to 
play their respective parts. 

A few months later, however, Grieg was to hear one of 
Fred's compositions performed, under conditions almost as 
bizarre as the unsuccessful performance. In the first part of 
his student days Fred composed a suite for orchestra, to which 
he gave the title " Florida ". By raising the wind, he managed 
to purchase a barrel of beer. In return for the contents of this 
barrel an orchestra of sixty performers offered their services. 
The performance took place in the beer hall of one of the 
big restaurants in Leipzig. Hans Sitt, who besides being his 
instructor at the Conservatorium, had given him lessons in 
the violin while he was studying the woollen trade at 
Chemnitz in Saxony, conducted. Grieg, after hearing the 
work, expressed himself in the most laudatory terms, and 
was confirmed in his belief that Fred, given the chance, 
would go far as a composer. That opinion stood my brother 
in good stead almost immediately afterwards. 

The eighteen months, which was the period to which my 
father had limited his licence for youthful folly, had expired. 
After that blessed interval, Fred found himself once more 

9S 



FREDERICK DELIUS 

faced with the old domestic contentions. He was still de- 
pendent on his father, and had no means apart from the 
allowance the other made him. And now the eighteen 
months being up which had been allotted to him, he had 
once more to face the paternal arguments and the paternal 
lectures on what had become a very threadbare theme. 
Knowing what lay before him he made his way back to Eng- 
land in a mood of distinct depression. Fortunately he was 
delayed in London by the fact that his friend, Grieg, was 
staying there. Before he could take the train to Bradford, 
where we were all eagerly awaiting him, the news reached 
him that his father had come up to town on business. Fred, 
determined to go on with his music whatever happened, 
thought it best to get the inevitable row over. He called to 
see my father, and what took place between them was quite 
in keeping with his anticipations. 

My father had a ledger mind — at any rate as far as artistic 
pursuits were concerned. He liked to see the credit total and 
the debit total, and if the former did not exceed the latter, 
the whole transaction was obviously a failure. And the entries 
on Fred's debit account were glaring. My father was already 
familiar with them before the interview, for he had supplied 
all the money that had been spent. On the credit side, the 
development of a musical genius not lending itself to trans- 
lation into figures, the entries were altogether lamentably 
lacking. I can imagine just what my father said. 

" You have had your eighteen months upon which you 
insisted. There is absolutely nothing to show for it. How 
are you any better fitted to earn your living by this ridiculous 
profession, which, anyway, is not fitted for a gentleman, than 
you were before? There's no use telling me that you feel you 
may one day do something. All idle young men talk like 

96 



; 






| ; * : I" 



Y 



<• |# 



*M*± 




FREDERICK DELIUS 

that. This nonsense has got to stop now and at once. You've 
had your fling and you've got to settle down." 

Fred was in despair. He rushed back to Grieg and un- 
bosomed himself to his friend. What was he to do? Of 
course, his father might be right, and he might never be able 
to keep himself by his art. But he still had a belief in himself. 
The worst of it was that his father might force him back into 
commerce, cutting off his allowance, without which he was 
unable to live. 

I am giving a precis of what took place as Fred described 
it to me some time later. Fortunately, quite apart from his 
friendship with Fred, Grieg had strong opinions as to my 
brother's future. It was monstrous, he felt, that a musician, 
whose genius he recognised, should not be given the chance 
of developing his talent. After questioning Fred about his 
father and learning of his genuine love of music — it really 
was genuine, though he did not approve of music as a career 
for his son — he offered to see what he could do. 

Grieg at this time was extremely well known in England, 
and my father, who always kept himself au courant with any- 
thing new in the musical world, was familiar enough with his 
name though he had never met him. When, therefore, he 
received a note from the composer, asking him to do him the 
honour of dining with him at the Hotel Metropole in order 
to discuss a matter of some moment, my father was delighted. 
He went to the dinner and during the meal the whole of the 
conversation was restricted to Fred. Grieg was eloquent on 
the subject of my brother's future. He told my father, in 
effect, that it would be a crime to cut his career short now. 
My father, who had never believed in the possibility of Fred 
being a musical genius, listened amazed. If anybody else 
had given such an opinion, he would have pooh-poohed it as 

G 97 



FREDERICK DELIUS 

either ridiculous or interested; but the authority of his host 
could not be denied. His reputation was already European. 

Very reluctantly he allowed himself to be persuaded, and 
banished from his mind for ever the absurd dream he had 
cherished of seeing Fred taking his place at the head of 
Delius and Co., Wool and Noil Merchants. 

Fred could hardly credit his good fortune. Grieg had 
accomplished what to him seemed a miracle. He had actually 
persuaded papa to eat his words and go back on a decision 
upon which he had waxed eloquent a thousand times. His 
allowance was to be continued, and he was to be free to pursue 
his artistic career without let or hindrance. The dark, 
looming shadow of commerce had been lifted for good and 
all. 

How to take advantage of the freedom he had now gained? 
Quite apart from artistic considerations, the financial aspects 
of the situation influenced his solution of this problem. 
Though my father had given his consent at last he still dis- 
approved, and he marked his disapproval by reducing the 
allowance he had made my brother to a very minimum. It 
was no more than would keep a healthy young man in the 
barest necessities. At this juncture another member of the 
family came forward unexpectedly to help him. This was 
my uncle Theodore. He had been my father's partner until 
1882, and then, disliking commerce, had taken himself off 
to France, where he continued to live until his death. 

Bernard Shaw has remarked somewhere that a good nurse 
can look after a child far better than its own mother. Uncle 
Theodore was certainly more fitted to stand in a paternal 
relationship to Fred than our father was. Though a bachelor, 
he understood much better how to deal with children and 
young men. Coercion, he realised, was useless. Unlike his 

98 



FREDERICK DELIUS 

brother he did not believe that youth could be ridden on a 
tight rein. During his long association with Fred he never 
sought to interfere with his life but was always ready to help 
him with his purse and such influence as he possessed. To 
Uncle Theodore, who was then living in Paris, Fred fled after 
that dramatic decision in London, and so began his long 
association with France, which was to end forty-six years 
later. From that time onwards — I am writing now of the 
summer of 1888 — to the day of his death, France was for 
all practical purposes his home. 

I should like to sketch Uncle Theodore, who played such a 
beneficent part in my brother's career. He had always been 
a Victorian dandy. Even in an atmosphere so uncongenial 
to dandyism as Bradford between the sixties and the eighties 
of the last century he had kept flying the flag of pose and 
poise. He dressed with fastidious elegance and he never went 
abroad into the streets or to the warehouse except in clothes 
which would have done credit to the Park in the season, or 
Pall Mall. We had a legend in our childhood that he wore 
stays. I think there may have been a foundation for this 
legend. Remember I am writing of the days when Lord 
Lytton had been held up to ridicule as " the padded man 
who wears the stays ". It was part of what we now call the 
dude's ensemble. 

But this love of clothes, coupled with a remote aristocratic 
flavour which he carried into every detail of his life, did not 
stifle his generosity or his essential kindliness of heart. While 
we were terrified of our father as children, we loved Uncle 
Theodore, who could always be relied upon to take a human, 
reasonable view of our indiscretions. Not from his lips ever 
came the word in season or the moral to adorn the tale. He 
was gay, and immensely tolerant, and I doubt if Fred could 

99 



FREDERICK DELIUS 

have found at this turning point in his life a better friend or 
a wiser mentor. 

In this age when caste with difficulty maintains its privi- 
leges by vulgar newspaper propaganda and ostentatious dis- 
play, and the subordination of the classes is as dead as Queen 
Anne, my Uncle Theodore's attitude towards life seems as 
strange as a fairy tale. If my father had something of the 
Prussian Guard's officer in his make-up, his brother was a 
throwback to the aristocracy of the eighteenth century. In 
Paris he lived with almost ceremonial dignity, his manners 
perfect, his views of how one should conduct one's life based 
on a social philosophy which has completely passed away. To 
give a picture of him I cannot do better, I think, than 
describe the ceremonial which he insisted should be carried 
out when he died. 

No ordinary person was to be allowed to touch his body. 
That was the aristocratic rule of the eighteenth century. His 
valet, being presumably of common clay, was not to be per- 
mitted to perform the ghostly ritual of preparing the remains 
for the coffin. This task was left to a cousin and Fred — from 
whom I had the description — as the two nearest relatives. 
First the human shell had to be adorned with full evening 
dress, upon which its orders and decorations were paraded. 
Fred declares that it was the most macabre experience he had 
ever undergone. Isidore, the valet, with due solemnity 
handed each garment as it was required, and Fred and his 
cousin had to somehow or other get them on to the rapidly 
stiffening body. When this difficult task was completed — 
the tie tied, the collar set, the studs placed, the buttons but- 
toned — the orders were pinned in their proper place. If Fred, 
who had a knack of laughing at such vanities — in one of his 
few press interviews he told a reporter that he was " born 

ioo 



FREDERICK DELIUS 

of poor but honest parents in Bradford " — found this rite 
macabre, Uncle Theodore would have revelled in it as no 
more than his proper due. 

It was to this delightful man with his charming foibles 
that Fred fled in that summer of 1888, finally redeemed 
from commerce by the intervention of Grieg. There he re- 
mained for some months, but towards the winter took a small 
cottage in Ville d'Avray. Now that his mind was at rest as 
to his future, his inspiration began to blossom from day to 
day. 

I am not sure how many of his compositions were 
brought to life in that year, which was his first most fruitful 
period, while he was actually in Paris, but I think they in- 
cluded two pieces for the orchestra, a pastorale for violin and 
orchestra, and five songs from the Norwegian. None of the 
orchestral pieces, I believe, have been performed, for Fred 
was rightly concerned not to give to the world any but his 
most finished productions. In the spring of 1889 he moved 
to a flat at 33 rue Ducouedic, not far from the Lion de Belfort 
on the outskirts of the Latin Quarter. 

The Montparnasse and the famous Quarter, which was to 
be Fred's home until 1 896, was very different to the Quarter 
of to-day. That present Americanised region still carried 
about with it the atmosphere of Henri Murger and his Vie de 
Boheme. The Cafe du Dome was still a friendly cafe, where 
the hard-up student could get reasonable credit, where 
Madame's domestic life seemed to overflow into and 
embrace all the studios in the neighbourhood, and not the 
glorified hostelry it has since become. The rue Delambre 
and the Boulevard Raspail, the rue Vivin and the narrow 
thoroughfares that led to the Luxembourg Gardens had not 
yet fallen under the hand of the improver. Youth still tried 

101 



FREDERICK DELIUS 

to find compensation for lack of any pronounced ability in 
the arts by eccentricity of dress; genius unrecognised and in 
poverty stalked the streets and lived somehow. Life, given 
up as far as possible to art, concerned itself as little as pos- 
sible with the material business of living. The Latin Quarter 
of the nineties was, in short, as unlike Bradford as two places 
could very well be. 

In the late Philip Heseltine's monograph on my brother 
the author has produced an account written by Fred of his 
friendships of those days and one aspect of his life in the 
Quarter. I can only tell what he told me. He circulated, 
oddly enough, not among musicians, but among literary men 
and artists. He was very intimate with August Strindberg, 
the eccentric and distinguished Swedish dramatist, who died 
in 19 1 2 at the age of sixty-three. Another of his intimates 
was Gauguin, the artist, whose work at that time was re- 
garded with a contempt which seems generally to be the lot 
of the original artist at the beginning of his career. 

Fred's friends in the Latin Quarter provided, indeed, an 
illustration of his own artistic orientation. All his intimates 
were men of original genius, who refused to be hampered 
by the traditions of the past and preferred the harder road 
through the jungle of prejudice to what they believed to be 
the light. Paul Gaugin, who was fourteen years older than 
Fred, carried a dislike of tradition so far as to condemn most 
of the old masters, to declare that his study of their works 
in his youth had spoilt and ruined his artistic outlook, and 
in season and out to call down maledictions upon Raphael. 
To secure emancipation from the past, to attain that liberty 
of soul which he considered essential to his artistic expres- 
sion, he left Paris, where he had been born, and took up his 
residence in Tahiti, where he, as far as it was possible for a 

102 



FREDERICK DELIUS 

landscape painter, " went native ". He was the intimate of 
Van Gogh and Pissaro and was the founder of the Ecole de 
Pont Aven. He was to die in the Antilles in 1903 without 
his genius having been accepted by the world at large. To- 
day, of course, he is classed among the first rank of artists, 
and in the picture trade his works fetch fabulous sums. 

Alphonse Marie Mucha, another of Fred's friends of this 
time, who was two years older than himself, was a dis- 
tinguished engraver and sculptor. A pupil of J. P. Laurens, 
he carved out a road for himself and, creating a style which 
had an immense success, received in his forty-first year that 
cachet of recognition which comes from the decoration of 
the Legion of Honour. All of Fred's friends, in short, were 
like himself remarkable men who set before themselves high 
ideals of art from which they never swerved. Material suc- 
cess mattered nothing to them. It has been said recently, 
quite unfairly, by one of our distinguished statesmen, that 
the desire to make profits is the chief impulse of humanity, 
and that if you remove this lure civilisation would sink into 
chaos. This thesis, so obviously untrue — for most of the great 
gifts to mankind in art and science have been made without 
any thought of financial reward — was certainly disproved by 
Fred and his little band of friends who wandered through 
the friendly streets of Montparnasse in the nineties, dream- 
ing their dreams and keeping their eyes fixed on the light of 
truth and beauty as they saw it. 

Romance came early into Fred's life, during those years in 
the Latin Quarter. I tell the story as it has been told me. It 
should be narrated, I feel, in the romantic vein, for it opened 
up for my brother years of devoted comradeship and love. 
He was astonishingly fortunate, for he found in his wife per- 
haps the only person in the world who could have given him 

103 



FREDERICK DELIUS 

that perfect sympathy and understanding essential to the 
complete development of his artistic gifts. 

It was a custom for Fred, Strindberg and his friends to 
take their meals at a little cremerie presided over by Madame 
Charlotte in the rue de la Grande Chaumiere. Living almost 
immediately opposite this establishment, which was quite 
devoid of pretensions, and could with difficulty have 
attended to the wants of twelve customers had they arrived 
all at the same time, there lived a lady artist, a certain Jelka 
Rosen. At this time she had already made a niche for her- 
self in the artistic world, having been hung in the Salon at 
the age of seventeen. Looking out of her window each day 
at the pageant of the streets, she became familiar with the 
patrons of Madame Charlotte. They were obviously all 
friends, and they equally obviously all belonged to the 
Quarter. One of them — a man who always wore heavy sabots 
— was an unknown painter called Gauguin. Another was a 
Polish painter named Slivinsky. A third was the maitre de 
ballet of the Follies Bergeres. The fourth was a Czech illus- 
trator known as Mucha; a fifth, a young French poet called 
Leclerc. The sixth, a man somewhat older than his com- 
panions, whom she recognised as the Swedish dramatist, 
August Strindberg, and last of all a tall, handsome young 
Englishman. 

Madame Charlotte was kind hearted, but like most French 
women in her position, though she liked to help a lame dog 
over a stile, she kept an eye upon the sous. Credit — generous 
credit — was procurable when times were difficult, but it was 
more easily procurable if one of the applicants could lodge 
some security. The young French poet, Leclerc, having 
nothing but his poems, very often, Jelka Rosen noticed, 
walked up and down the street in front of the cremerie, till 

104 



FREDERICK DELIUS 

one of his friends who was in funds took him inside. Gauguin, 
who was invariably hard-up, solved his difficulties by hang- 
ing his pictures on the walls. At various times Madame 
Charlotte must have had at her disposal pictures which in 
after years were to be worth thousands. 

But it was the young Englishman who really attracted the 
lady artist. He, she discovered, was an unknown composer 
called Frederick Delius. Chance brought about an introduc- 
tion. They fell in love with one another, and so began that 
perfect comradeship — on her part one of selfless devotion — 
which ended only with his death. 

Fred, during these years, was steadily producing musical 
compositions, most of which were never to be heard in public. 
Between 1890 and 1892 he completed his first opera, Irmelin, 
which has never been performed. In 1892 he finished his 
tone poem for orchestra, Sur les Cimes. Thanks to the bene- 
volent Uncle Theodore, this latter work was performed at 
Monte Carlo the following winter — the first public perform- 
ance of any of Fred's works. By this date, 1893, he had com- 
pleted his second opera, The Magic Fountain, for which he 
wrote the text as well as the music. Eduard Lassen accepted 
it for production at the Opera House at Weimar. Fred was 
then thirty-one years of age. The performance at Monte 
Carlo had in a sense been paid for; this was an acceptance 
from the outside world, simply on the merits of his work. 
Characteristically, Fred, when everything had been com- 
pleted for the production, withdrew the opera, and turned 
his back on this golden opportunity for securing public notice, 
because he was not satisfied with the work. I think that ges- 
ture showed what a fine artist my brother was at heart. 

The following year, 1 894, Uncle Theodore died. In losing 
the sympathy of that kindly old man, Fred lost much, but 

105 



FREDERICK DELIUS 



incidentally he gained a great deal. Uncle Theodore had 
left him a small legacy. The estate was wound up in 1895 
and the money had just been paid over to him when his 
friend Gauguin gave an exhibition of his pictures, which he 
had brought back with him from Tahiti. Fred was fascinated 
by a picture called " Nevermore ", after Edgar Allen Poe's 
poem. Gauguin, who as always was very hard-up, would have 
been content with ten or fifteen pounds. Delius, with Uncle 
Theodore's legacy in his pocket, delighted him by insisting 
on paying twenty. 

The picture portrays the passing of the old Tahiti. A nude 
native girl is shown on a carved Tahitian couch, a yellow 
pillow under her dark head, her face cupped in her hand, 
lying on draperies of jade, shading to purple with touches 
of scarlet. The house is open to the deep blue Pacific sky. 
Two Tahitian men, garbed in the beautiful ancient dress of 
their country, are standing with their backs to the girl, talk- 
ing and looking out on to the veranda. A background of 
bushes of deep rose colour against the sky throws into sharp 
relief the foreboding expression on their faces. A raven, 
coloured as only Gauguin could colour it, stands near them. 

I may as well complete the history of this picture, which 
came at this time into Fred's hands. As the years passed, the 
picture attained a considerable commercial value, quite apart 
from its great artistic merits, for Gauguin's genius had be- 
come recognised. In 19 14, when Fred was living at Grez, near 
Fontainbleau, the news came that the Germans were ap- 
proaching, and the order was received that the place was to 
be evacuated. Delius's main concern was for his Gauguin. It 
was easy to dispose of the other valuables. With the assis- 
tance of his wife and Lloyd Osbourne, Robert Louis Steven- 
son's step-son, who was staying with him at the time, he dug 

106 



FREDERICK DELIUS 

an enormous hole in the ground into which was put the entire 
contents of the wine cellar. They then covered the hole up, 
stamping down the earth and planting weeds on the surface 
to make it appear undisturbed. But the Gauguin was a more 
difficult problem. If Grez were to be occupied by the enemy 
it could not be left anywhere in the village. They solved the 
problem by rolling it up inside cardboard. On the principle 
of oilcloth this could not be done very closely for fear of 
cracking the paint, so that next day they had to leave with 
a cylinder about a foot in diameter, which was extremely 
cumbersome to handle. 

At Bourron station, where they hoped to catch a train, 
they found the only traffic leaving was a cattle truck, already 
closely packed. Fred and his wife managed, however, to 
squeeze on board and were told that their destination would 
be Orleans. For seventeen hours they had to sit on the floor 
with people jostling them, falling over them, sleeping all 
around them. During the whole of this time neither of them 
gave a thought to the Germans. The whole of their atten- 
tion was fixed upon the safety of the Gauguin. Mrs. Delius 
squatted for the whole of those seventeen hours with her 
arms clasped protectively round the picture to prevent it 
from being crushed. During all that time she was hardly 
able to relax her muscles, for there were sixty people in the 
truck. 

They arrived at Orleans at three a.m. to find every hotel 
packed out with fugitives. There was nothing for it but to 
sit on a seat till daybreak, still holding that precious picture. 
A military canteen supplied them with breakfast, and re- 
freshed by this, they set out on a long, wearisome search 
for lodgings, Mrs. Delius clutching the big cylinder of card- 
board and canvas as if it were some mace of office. Eighteen 

107 



FREDERICK DELIUS 

days later, when the German tide of invasion had begun to 
ebb, they were able to return to Grez and restore the Gauguin 
to its frame. 

During the nineties, when Fred's creative genius was 
blossoming, his visits to England were intermittent — I was 
at this time married and living at Folly Hall at Wibsey, near 
Bradford. Here Fred came to visit us and stay with us for 
some time. A sceptic about psychic phenomena — he had 
played several tricks upon his friend Strindberg, who was a 
firm believer in the occult — he went to considerable pains to 
try and disprove the story that Folly Hall was haunted. He 
pooh-poohed the various psychic experiences I believed I had 
undergone in the house, declaring that the imagination could 
play strange tricks with the human mind. 

There was one incident which he refused to credit. Re- 
turning one evening from paying some calls in the company 
of my sister-in-law, now the wife of Mr. M. G. Apthorp, 
Chief Commissioner for Native Affairs in the South African 
Union, we passed the library window. A bright fire was burn- 
ing in the grate, and seated in an armchair in front of the 
fire was a man. We asked the servants who was our 
visitor, and were told that no one had called. We both went 
into the library. As we did so the figure of the man rose 
from the armchair. Unhurriedly he moved from the library 
into the drawing-room beyond. On the other side of the 
drawing-room was a locked door. Through this door he 
passed and vanished, though the door was still locked. 

All this was hallucination, Fred declared, and in the same 
category he classed all the other spectral manifestations to 
which I was subjected. Then he himself complained that 
the house was full of extraordinary noises, which he found 
it difficult to explain until he thought of rats. He clung to 

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FREDERICK DELIUS 

this theory in spite of the fact that no rats had ever been seen 
in the house. If the will to believe is the spring from 
which most so-called psychical manifestations arise, the 
will not to believe is equally responsible for a certain 
obtuseness, from which, I think, Fred, who disliked not being 
able to explain things in an ordinary way, suffered. 

With my little family he was delightful, spending many 
hours in the nursery. He would also gather them round the 
piano in the drawing-room while he played to them some of 
his wonderful compositions. It happened that during his 
visit Wibsey Fair took place — an old-established and cele- 
brated horse fair. I often wonder if he got his idea for " Brigg 
Fair " from that experience. I recall how he threw himself 
into the amusements with a whole-hearted zest, which sug- 
gested nothing of the highbrow. He visited most of the 
penny shows and insisted on going in to see the fat woman, 
who was coyly delighted when Fred felt her arm to satisfy 
himself, he declared, that all her obesity was real flesh. He 
went with us to a village concert, and was very much struck 
by the violin playing of a little boy, declaring that he showed 
remarkable promise. 

When next he paid us a visit we were living at Stone Gappe. 
This house, which is now a Youth Hostel, was the Gates- 
head Hall of Jane Eyre. It is situated about seven miles from 
Skipton in the very heart of the Bronte country. Fred, who 
had a strong romantic strain, took great delight in perusing 
the title deeds of the estate, which go back to Domesday. In 
the housemaid's pantry he discovered to his intense satisfac- 
tion a fireplace with the date 1 067 chiselled on the great stone 
above the hearth. He had brought with him the whole manu- 
script of his opera Koanga, and I like to remember how he 
played it over to me several times. 

109 



FREDERICK DELIUS 

He had completed Koanga between the years 1895 and 
1897, an opera in three acts, the text of which was based upon 
D. W. Cable's novel, The Grandissimes. He had at this time 
removed to Grez, and a propos of his opera he told me of 
the wonderful jackdaw to whom he had given the name of 
Koanga. 

He was exploring the old ruin near his house one day when 
he espied a jackdaw's nest. Climbing up the ivy, he secured 
a young bird which he took home. It proved a marvellously 
intelligent pet, and displayed almost uncanny powers. He 
always allowed it to run about free, and it would hop on the 
writing-table and look over the letters which had arrived 
by the post. Fred declared that it sorted them out with its 
beak, tossing all the bills and unpleasant communications 
aside, and collecting into a heap those which could not pos- 
sibly disturb the equanimity of his master ! 

On one occasion a letter arrived from a too ardent female 
admirer. Koanga, showing great disapproval, tossed it on one 
side. Fred's quaint old French housekeeper who happened to 
be in the room, threw up her hands in a gesture of approval. 
" There, what would you? " she exclaimed. " See how wise 
he is! He knows that Monsieur is now not interested and 
must devote himself to his work." 

On another occasion Fred lost in the garden a stone out 
of his links. It was either a sapphire or an emerald. As the 
paths were all gravel, and the garden a large and rambling 
one, he never expected to see it again. There was a great 
upheaval, and the whole domestic staff was engaged in the 
vain search. About a fortnight later Fred was sitting reading 
when Koanga hopped up to him, and with a loud " caw " laid 
the lost stone on his foot. When he travelled, Koanga was 
always taken in a special cage. Fred told me, as another illus- 

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FREDERICK DELIUS 

tration of the bird's remarkable intelligence, that as soon as 
he saw signs of packing he retired to his cage, shot the bolt 
with his beak and waited patiently on events ! For certain 
people he had strong dislikes, and when any of them came 
and were sitting under the trees having tea, he would perch 
on a bough just above their heads and drop twigs or cater- 
pillars into their cups or down their necks. 

In the grounds at Grez he acted as a kind of keeper, waging 
a special war on the magpies who devoured the fruit on the 
trees. When the enemy gathered, evidently bent on a raid, 
Koanga would immediately collect his fellow jackdaws from 
the ruin and drive them away. He remained Fred's devoted 
pet until the war, when my brother had to leave Grez, and it 
was not possible for him to take Koanga with him. During 
his absence Koanga " went native ", and on his return refused 
to come into the house again. When I was last at Grez he 
was still flying round the house uttering his name, but firmly 
declining to return to a semi-domesticated state. 

While he was with us at Stone Gappe I realised that Fred 
had never lost his youthful love of the moors. He liked 
nothing better than to ramble over the heather. That old 
trick of his, that I have recorded in an earlier chapter, of 
standing perfectly still when he heard any sounds which 
interested him, still persisted, and I remember how he re- 
mained absolutely motionless for several minutes listening 
to the song of a thrush. The colour of the moors, the life of 
the heather, exercised an extraordinary fascination on his 
imaginative mind, and this interest extended to all the tradi- 
tions of the neighbourhood. 

He soaked himself in the wild stories of the countryside, 
and developed an extraordinary faculty for re-peopling the 
moors and dales with the people of the past. At Skipton 

in 



FREDERICK DELIUS 

Castle, with its tradition of the Cliffords and the Nortons, he 
was like a schoolboy paying his first visit to the Tower. His 
love of chivalry and romance extended to all the old rites 
that survived in that part of Yorkshire. He was with us at 
Christmas, and besides taking an active part in our domestic 
activities, he revelled in the local customs attaching to the 
season. 

Lothersdale, the village nearest to Stone Gappe, had a 
really good band, of which I was the patroness. At Christ- 
mas they used to come and play outside on the drive. One 
of the items they played on the occasion when Fred was 
with us was "Hail! smiling morn". They played it so 
well, and so delighted Fred that he insisted on their repeat- 
ing it three times. On the evening of Christmas Day the 
choir from the church came to sing to us, assembling on the 
lawn outside the billiard room, and singing Christmas carols, 
singing remarkably well, needless to say, as they were York- 
shire. Fred took part in the old rite which followed, when 
the choir entered the house by the front door and walked 
right through the premises to the kitchen, singing at the top 
of their voices, the tradition being that this brings luck. In 
the kitchen Fred assisted in distributing cake, cheese, mince 
pies and beer. When I visited him at Grez years later I dis- 
covered that he kept up these Christmas traditions and pro- 
vided a tree for the children in the village. 

While staying at Stone Gappe, Fred read Wuthering 
Heights for the first time. His reaction to that masterpiece 
of emotion and passion was immediate. Discovering that 
Hareton Earnshaw's house, or the house at which he was sup- 
posed to have lived, was within walking distance, he insisted 
on making repeated pilgrimages to it, and he seemed never to 
tire of wandering round it, or staring at the carving of dates 

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FREDERICK DELIUS 

over the door. The whole Bronte legend took hold of him, 
and we drove over to Haworth, inspecting the vicarage and 
visiting the Black Bull and even sitting in the chair in which 
the hapless Bramwell drank his brilliancy to the grave. 

From his long residence in France, Fred had brought back 
many acquired prejudices. Among these was his contention 
that no English person could make coffee. Though I had a 
very excellent cook, who had been chef at a large hotel, and 
could, and did, make wonderful coffee, Fred still declared it 
was undrinkable. One night he asked me if he might go into 
the kitchen and show Horrell how coffee should be made. 
I consented, and sent one of the servants to prepare the way 
for his visit. When Fred entered the kitchen, Horrell, with 
sarcastic intent, had spread a large, clean white apron on the 
table, obviously indignant at the intrusion and at the implied 
suggestion that she could be taught her business. " Perhaps 
you'd better put that on, sir," she said acidly. Fred, quite 
unperturbed, accepted the suggestion, and got one of the 
maids to tie the apron about his evening clothes. After using 
a great deal of crockery the coffee was at last prepared and 
Fred walked triumphantly back into the billiard room. It is 
rather tragic to have to own that the coffee was nothing like 
as good as HorrelFs, who ever afterwards spoke with indigna- 
tion and resentment of the incident ! 

When Fred left Stone Gappe, he went to spend a few days 
at Claremont. There were still three of his younger sisters 
in the schoolroom, and on his arrival he insisted on taking 
tea with them, delighting my sisters by ordering every pos- 
sible delicacy for the meal, and so turning that usually rather 
Spartan repast into a feast. A few days before returning to 
France, Fred ordered a whole outfit of silk pyjamas, shirts, 
ties, and suits, giving the shopkeeper implicit instructions not 

H m 



FREDERICK DELIUS 

to send the bills in to papa until the day after he had left. By 
some mistake the bills arrived the day before. The total was 
over a hundred pounds, for Fred's taste in sartorial matters 
was then very fastidious. My father, of course, was out- 
raged; there was the inevitable scene; but as usual he paid. 

The time was now approaching when Fred, his many 
experiments in musical technique completed, was to emerge 
at last from his obscurity. The period of preparation was 
over, and with his fastidiously critical attitude towards his 
own work almost satisfied, as far as an artist can ever be said 
to be satisfied, he was to begin his slow progress to recogni- 
tion. But of this I must tell in another chapter. 



114 



CHAPTER VI 

The insularity of the British and the slowness of our 
race to appreciate anything new, are themes upon 
which highbrows through the ages have wasted reams 
of paper. I have heard my brother's career as a composer put 
forward as an illustration of this thesis — that it was not until 
he had received recognition abroad that anyone in this 
country paid any attention to his music. This is entirely 
erroneous. 

I write subject to correction, for I am now dealing with an 
aspect of my brother's life about which I recognise with all 
humility I am not competent to speak. I am one of the most 
ardent admirers of my brother's work, but that admiration is 
not based on the technical knowledge which belongs to com- 
petent critics. I am simply " one of his public ", distinguished 
from them, if distinguished from them at all, by the fact that 
Fred was my brother and that I loved and admired him. 
When I declare that Fred achieved his eminence in the world 
of music first and foremost through the appreciation of the 
English public and not from the backwash of the kudos he 
acquired abroad, I rely upon facts. 

From the time when he entered the Conservatorium at 
Leipzig in 1886, to his first concert at the old St. James's 
Hall in 1 899, the public had only had an opportunity on four 
occasions of hearing any of his compositions, and one of 
these was at a private performance at Leipzig in 1 888. Thanks 
to Uncle Theodore his tone poem for orchestra, Sur les Cimes, 
had been produced in Monte Carlo in 1893. One other per- 

iis 



FREDERICK DELIUS 

formance, to which I am going to refer later, was the inci- 
dental music to Gunnar Heiburg's drama, Folkeraadet, com- 
posed in 1897 and produced in the same year. The fourth 
was the performance of Over the Hills and Far Away at 
Elberfeld, also in 1897. Though between 1899 and 1907 five 
first performances of his works were given abroad in Elber- 
feld, Diisseldorf, Essen, and Berlin, the vast majority of his 
remaining compositions were heard first by the British 
public. 

It was an Englishman — that man of genius, Sir Thomas 
Beecham — who, having at an early date recognised my 
brother's music for what it was, devoted himself with un- 
wearying generosity to establishing his reputation in this 
country. When one remembers the puzzled state of the 
critics after that concert in St. James's Hall in 1899 — their 
distinctly aye-and-nay attitude — the work that Sir Thomas 
did in educating the public seems almost miraculous now. 
Had it not been for Sir Thomas Beecham — and I will name 
two other Englishmen, Sir Henry Wood and Mr. Balfour 
Gardiner — I am willing to admit that my brother, who lived 
so much abroad, might first have achieved a continental repu- 
tation before he was accepted over here. All I am concerned 
to point out is that this did not happen, and that Fred's 
eminence in the musical world was achieved in England and 
rests on the appreciation of a public which was so fortunate 
as to possess in the gentlemen I have mentioned, men of rare 
taste and musical insight, who did not hesitate to direct their 
attention to a new school of beauty. 

All through those years between 1886 and 1899 Fred had 
been working steadily, producing more and more. As those 
microscopic scores went their rounds, fastidiously critical 
attitudes towards his own work — his determination to give to 

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FREDERICK DELIUS 

the world nothing but his best — made him hesitate, as in 
the case I have already recorded of The Magic Fountain, to 
allow them to be performed. With the exception of Sur les 
Cimes, the only first public performances of any of his work, 
until the St. James's Hall concert, were the Norwegian suite 
for orchestra, given at Christiania in 1897, and Over the Hills 
and Far Away at Elberfeld in the same year. The story of 
the performance of Folkeraadet is well known on account of 
certain bizarre incidents, in which Fred was concerned, but 
I think I may repeat it here. 

He had met Gunnar Heiburg in Paris, and it was at the 
dramatist's suggestion that he composed the incidental music 
to his satirical play Folkeraadet. Gunnar Heiburg's wit was 
levelled at the professional politician who mouths patriotic 
sentiments from the platform, and encourages others to sac- 
rifice their lives in wars in which he is usually careful not to 
participate. 

In the play the very reverse took place. To appreciate the 
atmosphere in Norway at the time it must be remembered 
that the country was then in a ferment of local patriotism, 
due partly to economic causes. Norway was at the time 
linked to Sweden under the dual crown of King Oscar. This 
duality had raised several difficult problems, among them 
the question of consular representation. Abroad, Norway 
and Sweden were represented by a single consul who, ac- 
cording to the Norwegians, was solely Swedish in his sym- 
pathies and disinclined to look after the commercial interests 
of Norwegian merchants. Passion ran high, and the move- 
ment which was then started culminated eight years later in 
the deposition of King Oscar and the establishment of 
Norway as a separate kingdom under King Haakon. 

In the play all the parliamentarians get jockeyed into a 

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FREDERICK DELIUS 

situation in which they have to pass a vote declaring that 
they must all go out and fight, instead of merely mouthing 
patriotic sentiments. Once, however, they have taken the 
field the incurable habit politicians suffer from of quarrelling 
among themselves comes uppermost. The bullets intended 
for the enemy are turned upon one another. When the war 
had been brought to an end by the adroit explosion of a 
charge of dynamite, for which a hotel waiter is solely respon- 
sible, a great public funeral is arranged for the parliamen- 
tarians whom everybody believes have died in defence of 
their country. The mistake is discovered in time, and instead 
of the patriotic funeral, a triumph is accorded to the hotel 
waiter. 

In his incidental music, Fred took the Norwegian National 
Anthem and in much the same way as Tchaikowsky em- 
ployed the Russian National Anthem and the Marseillaise 
in the 1812 Overture (but in this case with the sole object 
of adding emphasis to the satire), wove it into the body of 
his work. 

On the first night there was a riot; on the second night a 
revolver was discharged at Fred in the box from which he 
was looking on, and he had to flee from the theatre. His hotel 
begged him to go elsewhere till the tumult subsided, and he 
sought refuge in the establishment where Ibsen was accus- 
tomed to take his evening refreshment. There Fred and the 
famous dramatist talked and laughed while the riot con- 
tinued. 

For six weeks the play ran to packed houses and to 
a continued effervescence of public feeling. At the end of 
that period, the point of the satire seems to have sunk home, 
for the students at the university met in solemn conclave 
and by formal vote absolved Fred from any intention of 

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FREDERICK DELIUS 

having misused or mishandled their National Anthem. It 
was in the interval between the composition of this music, 
and its riotous performance, that Fred paid his last visit to 
Solano Grove with Halfdam Jebe, the Norwegian violinist, 
which I have already recorded. 

Apropos of Jebe, who was the perfect vagabond, I may 
mention here, I think, the occasion on which Fred brought 
him to stay with us at Stone Gappe. Never, I think, have 
I enjoyed before or since such a delightful experience from 
a musical point of view. Fred always modestly disclaimed 
his skill as a pianist, but in this he did himself considerably 
less than justice. In the drawing-room at Stone Gappe he 
played the very difficult piano accompaniment to his 
Legende for piano and violin, which was in manuscript — 
and my brother's scores being almost microscopic must have 
been extraordinarily hard to read. Jebe took the violin part, 
playing magnificently. Years later I was to hear Albert 
Sammons give a performance of this same composition in 
London, but for me the finest rendering was the one I heard 
in the drawing-room at Stone Gappe. 

I recall a long walk we went with Jebe and Martin Labatte, 
who was staying with us at the time. Like Fred, and of 
course Jebe, Labatte was a great lover of Norway, and during 
the tramp across the heather the three of them sang the Nor- 
wegian National Anthem in Norwegian at the top of their 
voices. They made a curious trio — Fred tall, handsome, 
aloof — Jebe, a medieval troubadour born out of his time, 
gloriously indifferent to material things, and letting the 
morrow take care of itself — and Martin Labatte, a Bradford 
business man with something of the soul of an artist. 

It was on the occasion of this visit that Fred, who had 
brought the complete score with him, played for my benefit 

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FREDERICK DELIUS 

the whole of the piano part of Koanga — a proof in itself 
that he was a considerable pianist ! 

During these years the list of Fred's main compositions 
includes The Magic Fountain, the first verson of Appalachia, 
Koanga, and a portion of The Mass of Life. This list, of 
course, is but a small part of the work he did during those 
years. A few of his early songs had been published in 
London, but so far the British public's knowledge of him was 
nil. This omission was now to be remedied. Fred was de- 
termined to give a concert of his works in London. That 
decision was one of the great steps in his career. 

To show how completely ignorant the public were of 
Fred's work at the time, I will quote a newspaper cutting 
which reads strangely nowadays. It was written when the 
preliminary notices and advertisements of the concert at St. 
James's Hall had just appeared. 

We must confess that the fame of Mr. Fritz Delius, who is 
described by the energetic Concorde Concert Control as a com- 
poser of the highest and most modern school, has hitherto 
eluded us. The fact that, despite his foreign name, he is 
English, is carefully insisted upon. However, full opportunity 
will come on May 30th. And no less a personality than Herr 
Kapellmeister Alfred Hertz will come over to England to 
conduct a programme which will consist entirely of Mr. 
Delius's compositions. We shall see. This may at once be said: 
Herr Hertz, on Easter Monday last, was telegraphed for from 
Elberfeld so that he might conduct the performance of Tristan 
und Isolde at Main. He arrived, and, without a rehearsal, 
gained the unanimous plaudits of all concerned. This, at any 
rate, was no slight feat. 

Alfred Hertz, whose acquaintance Fred had made when 
Dr. Haym, risking his reputation and getting into terrible hot 

120 



FREDERICK DELIUS 

water for including the piece in his programme, gave a per- 
formance of Over the Hills and Far Away at Elberfeld in 
1897, was at the time conductor at the Opera House at Elber- 
feld. 

He was a young man, a great admirer of Fred's and 
entirely devoted to music — nothing else, indeed, having any 
other interest for him. When my brother-in-law, Ladbroke 
Black, having called to see Fred, was sitting with him in his 
rooms in Bayswater, Alfred Hertz bounced into the room. 
Fred effected the usual introduction. For Alfred Hertz, how- 
ever, there was only one " Black " on his horizon at the 
moment, and that was Andrew Black, the famous singer, who 
was one of the few professionals secured by Fred to sing at 
his concert. Imagining that this must be the Black who 
mattered, Hertz, smiling and delighted, shook my brother- 
in-law warmly by the hand and then immediately crossing 
the room, opened the lid of the piano and seated himself at 
the instrument. 

" Now, Mr. Black," he exclaimed, " as you are so fortun- 
ately here we will try over . . ." 

My brother-in-law, who could not sing a note, looked 
helplessly at Fred, who went off suddenly into convulsions of 
laughter. 

" But I can't sing, Herr Hertz," my brother-in-law pro- 
tested. 

The famous conductor swung round on his stool. 

" But you are Mr. Andrew Black, are you not? " 

By this time Fred was laughing so much that he could not 
speak. My brother-in-law had to explain that he was very far 
from being anybody so celebrated. Alfred Hertz's reactions 
were typical of the man. He rose from the stool, frowning 
furiously, slammed down the lid of the piano, and without a 

121 



FREDERICK DELIUS 

word to Fred or my brother-in-law, stalked out of the room, 
banging the door violently behind him. 

The arrangements for the concert were very difficult, for 
money had to be considered, all the charges, I believe, having 
to be paid out of Fred's pocket. Amateur singers were en- 
gaged by advertisement, and when engaged had to be 
rehearsed. By that time Fred's musical technique was en- 
tirely unknown and by some of the singers it was regarded 
as barbaric. Even the professionals, including Madame 
Ella Russell, found themselves rather at sea. One of 
the five always sang at the rehearsals with his fingers in his 
ears. 

But these preliminary difficulties were at last got over, and 
the great day of May 30th, 1899, arrived. The programme 
was divided into two parts, the first consisting of the Legende 
for violin and orchestra, the third and fourth movements 
from the Folkeraadt, five Danish songs, the symphonic poem 
for orchestra, The Dance Goes On, and Mitternachtslied. The 
second part consisted of excerpts from Koanga, the whole of 
the second act being given. The concert began at eight and 
ended close on twelve. In spite of the fact that serious music 
was not the draw it is to-day — Sir Henry Wood had yet to 
create a big musical public in London — there were not too 
many vacant seats in the hall, and the audience was astonish- 
ingly appreciative. 

If some of the London critics were hostile, some puzzled 
and only a few able to grasp the fact that a new genius had 
arisen, the papers in the county of his birth were full of 
enthusiasm. From the very first, Yorkshire recognised Fred 
as a new force in music. 

Here is what the musical critic of the Yorkshire Post wrote 
of him the following morning : 

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FREDERICK DELIUS 

The musical dictionaries are silent concerning Mr. Fritz 
Delius, who gave an orchestral concert last night in St. James' 
Hall, and until yesterday his music was practically unknown 
in this country. Its beauty, force and intense life are, however, 
such that it is with a feeling of patriotic pride that we are able 
to say that Mr. Delius was born and brought up in Yorkshire. 

There followed this introduction a brief description of the 
items of the programme, the writer declaring that without a 
knowledge of the scores it was impossible for him to deal 
adequately on a first hearing with work of such important 
dimensions and so much originality. He ended on a wholly 
laudatory note : 

Enough has been said to show that Mr. Delius is one of the 
most gifted English composers of to-day. He is yet in the 
prime of life — [Fred was then thirty-seven] — and it is time 
that his talents should be recognised and encouraged by his 
countrymen. It should be added that the composer was twice 
called to the platform after the first part of the programme, 
and at the conclusion of the concert. 

In contrast to this estimate of the performance must be 
put the criticism printed in The Times : " The composer's 
choice of lugubrious subjects suggests that he is a thorough- 
going pessimist/' Of the London daily papers, The Standard, 
was the most unstinting in its praise. Speaking of the 
selection of Delius songs which were sung by Mademoiselle 
Christianne Andray, this paper declared that "they are 
distinguished by an originality, depth of sentiment and 
poetic conception that place them among the finest of 
modern times," and that " poet and composer seem to be one 
in thought and mode of expression." 

Another London paper was pompously convinced that Mr. 

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FREDERICK DELIUS 

Delius had great talent and added that his music possessed 
spirit and manliness, imagination also, and honest feelings. 

It would be boring to reproduce even in epitome all that 
was written about the concert that was an epoch in Fred's 
musical career. For the first time the English public had 
had my brother's music ' fed to them ', and during the 
digestive process the majority, like good Englishmen, com- 
plained, as their mental gastric juices attempted to cope 
with the new dietary, that they were not sure that they liked 
this fancy stuff which didn't even have a good tune in it 
like Wagner ! Critiques have to be written red-hot in some 
cases, and it is worth placing on record that the Saturday 
Review critic, who was hardly laudatory in his first article, 
had the courage to withdraw much of what he had said a 
week later. Here is an excerpt from his second article : 

It seemed difficult enough last week to form anything like 
a definite opinion of the music of Mr. Delius; and now it 
seems nearly impossible. On the one hand there was revealed 
to us at the Delius concert a composer of singularly high gifts, 
possessing a technique equal to that of any other composer 
living; on the other it could not be denied that much of his 
music struck strangely and harshly on the ear, that much of 
it appeared to misrepresent his poetic intention, that much of 
it again seemed to represent nothing, to be quite inexpressive 
and devoid of beauty, mere meaningless noise. That these 
things are actually so I do not care to affirm ; it would be en- 
tirely ridiculous if I, or any other critic, were to attempt a final 
judgment on music so complicated after only one or two 
hearings. A few things, however, are quite certain. Every bar 
of Mr. Delius's music shows high musicianship and an aston- 
ishing mastery of notes and a degree of vital energy quite as 
astonishing. Again, the scheme of each composition, and 
certain of the themes of each, and their treatment, show an 
unmistakably poetic cast of mind. 

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FREDERICK DELIUS 

In short, nearly all the notable critics, with a few excep- 
tions, were completely puzzled. They didn't understand and 
they tried to mark time. Mr. E. A. Baughan, who was then 
the editor of the Musical Standard, accurately mirrored, I 
think, the reactions of the British musical public. " Person- 
ally/' he wrote, " I admit that some of Mr. Delius's music 
sounded discordant to my ears, harsh, uninviting and ugly. 
But I could hear that he made it so with a definite purpose 
in view, and I can quite imagine that I might get to like those 
discords if I knew them better. That is what happened with 
Wagner's music." 

The competent critics, in fact, knew after the concert, that 
they had been listening to the works of a man who had 
something definite to express and was master of his medium 
of expression. But they were not sure that they understood 
what it was that he was trying ' to get across ', and the 
method of ' getting it across ' was one with which they were 
unfamiliar. 

Fred was more than satisfied with his first reception in 
England. I know it is the fashion to speak of artists — and 
before all things my brother was an artist — as if they were 
inhumanly detached from life and indifferent to the 
opinions of their fellow men. In the nature of things a 
composer composes with the ultimate object of being heard 
by somebody. They may, like Fred, refuse to give out to the 
world anything but their best, but they certainly desire an 
audition. As that hearing largely depends upon the recep- 
tion of their work by the public — if the public didn't like it 
the promoters of concerts would not find the money to ' put 
on the show ' — they cannot be indifferent to the opinion of 
the public. They may reasonably kick against ill-informed 
criticism, or they may be indifferent to public approval, 

I2 5 



FREDERICK DELIUS 

having already, if they are artists, the approval of their 
own consciousnesses, but the public taste is to them a matter 
of great importance. Fred, of course, would never have 
been diverted for one moment from the working out of his 
own artistic salvation by anything anybody wrote or said, 
but I know he appreciated that slowly gathering body of 
opinion in England which towards the end of his life placed 
him among the ranks of great composers. 

Before I leave the subject of the concert I should like to 
tell the story attaching to Koanga, excerpts from which 
formed the second part of the programme. It was composed 
between the years 1895 and 1897, and was first produced in 
its entirety at Elberfeld in 1904. I attended that perform- 
ance at Fred's special request, and shall tell of it in a later 
chapter. " A Fellow Student ", writing in 1907 — he had 
been at the Leipzig Conservatorium with Fred — relates 
how the complete performance of Koanga came to take 
place : 

It is rather amusing to think that had it not been for the 
appointment of Mr. Cassirer as conductor of the opera at 
Elberfeld, this work might still be lying, a happy hunting 
ground for flies, upon the musty shelves of the theatre 
library. For three years the full score had remained there 
and had been inspected by several successive conductors, 
every one of whom declared his inability to read the notes, 
so large was the paper used and so small the handwriting. 
Such a comparative trifle, however, did not deter Mr. Cas- 
sirer, who quickly detected it as music out of the common. 
But even he has confessed that he was unable to study the 
score by night, since if he held the lamp up in order to read 
the flute and other high instrument parts, those of the bass 
instruments were all in total darkness, while the opposite was 
the case if the lamp were placed upon the table. 

126 



FREDERICK DELIUS 

It has been said that one of the motives which inspired 
Fred to give that concert at St. James's Hall was to show the 
family, and especially my father, that his pursuit of a 
musical career had not been the ghastly failure which 
paternal prophecies of gloom had marked out for him. I do 
not know if this was the case. Though we often talked of 
that concert Fred never mentioned this aspect of what for 
him was a great adventure. I can relate, however, the re- 
ception by the family of the news of his success. 

In my own home we hungrily bought all the papers which 
contained criticisms of the concert. They lie before me as I 
write — columns and columns of print well thumbed and in 
some cases where a criticism appeared more than ordinarily 
absurd, scored in ink or pencil. I was delighted with my 
brother's fame. In Bradford and among our friends in the 
West Riding, Fred had been too long merely another of 
" those Delius boys " who had kicked over the traces. One 
spoke of his promise as a composer, but the believers were 
few in number and I doubt if they existed at all. Neither 
my father nor my mother ever mentioned to a living soul in 
Bradford a word about the career Fred was following. It 
was one of the family skeletons, perhaps in their eyes the 
most objectionable of the lot. 

When, therefore, the critic of the Yorkshire Post printed 
the warmly approving notice of the concert, from which I 
have reproduced some excerpts — when Fred was acclaimed 
as a very distinguished composer who had before him a 
career of extraordinary promise — people were thunder- 
struck. Seventeen or eighteen years had elapsed since Fred 
had left the Bradford business, and true to the good old rule 
that one should not wash one's family dirty linen in public, 
no mention had been made of the disastrous Florida epi- 

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FREDERICK DELIUS 

sode, or those months when he had been struggling and 
starving in Jacksonville and Danville. That he should sud- 
denly reappear upon the horizon as a celebrity was contrary 
to all precedent. 

During all those years of obscurity — I write this not in an 
excess of virtuous pride — I always kept my faith in Fred's 
genius undiminished. Since my marriage he had stayed 
with me several times, both at Folly Hall and Stone Gappe. 
I had even boasted of him to my friends, as a sister may be 
pardoned for doing, to be met with looks of polite but 
scarcely disguised incredulity. And here suddenly he was, 
in the language of Fleet Street, almost a front page story — 
at any rate as far as the musical world was concerned. 

People who had known us all our lives rubbed their eyes 
and could hardly believe what they read. I think they were 
rather glad when what might be called the rumpus was 
over, dying down as quickly as it had arisen, and Fred's 
name was no longer in the news. It gave them the feeling 
that perhaps after all they had been dreaming, that there 
wasn't really a Delius who had created something of a 
sensation in London. For Fred knew nothing of publicity — 
except to hate it. 

This was not a calculated pose, designed to bring him the 
very notice which he pretended to despise, but was genuine 
and ingrained. He detested the idea of being a celebrity, of 
being in the middle of the grandstand when the limelight is 
turned on, of being talked about. I believe he only once in 
his life gave a newspaper an interview, and on that occasion 
he mercilessly pulled the correspondent's leg, declaring 
among other things that he was born in Bradford of poor 
but honest parents, and had clambered to his position 
through all the gradations of penuriousness and self-denial. 

128 



FREDERICK DELIUS 

In the hands of a good publicity man, Fred's name, after 
that first concert at St. James's Hall and the good press notices 
he had had, would have been kept well to the front. As it 
was, it was hardly mentioned again until he gave his next 
concert eight years later at the Queen's Hall. He was for- 
gotten as completely as if he had never existed — except, of 
course, by those who took an interest in musical matters and 
followed what was being done in the world of music on the 
continent. Notoriety came to him through no conscious 
act on his part. No adventitious aids, if we exclude that dis- 
tressing picture of him in the Royal Academy, showing him 
listening to his own music in an invalid's chair, blind and 
helpless, advanced his popularity with the public. It was his 
music, and the appreciation it gradually won, which secured 
him in his fame. 

My father at this time was in his seventy-eighth year. 
That particular sort of wisdom which makes a man acknow- 
ledge his mistakes is supposed to come with age, but I'm 
afraid this was not the case with my father. Time had not 
changed his view that music was no career for a gentleman, 
nor his conviction that Fred could not possibly make his 
name in that profession. To admit now that he might have 
been wrong would be to deny all he had been saying for the 
last twenty years; it would show the folly of his attitude 
towards his son in all its absurdity. What he did was oddly 
characteristic of him. 

In common with the rest of the public, he must have 
seen the reports in the Yorkshire papers. It was impossible, 
indeed, for him to miss them. Each report mentioned 
the fact as an astonishing discovery that Frederick 
Delius was a Yorkshireman born and bred, and was the son 
of Mr. Julius Delius, the head of that well-known firm of 

I 129 



FREDERICK DELIUS 

wool and noil merchants, Delius and Co. His many friends 
and acquaintances in Bradford, also seized with astonishment 
at the celebrity that had come the way of Fred Delius, whom 
they had only known as a young man, very incompetently 
trying to learn the Bradford business, stopped my father and 
congratulated him on the furore in the press. But my father 
would have none of it. No son of his ought to be a com- 
poser, and so Fred wasn't a composer, whatever the world 
might say! 

The reader may think this is incredible, but it is a fact. 
My father when questioned about Fred always spoke of him 
with affectionate good nature, as a boy who had gone his 
own way and was presumably reaping the consequences. If 
pressed to say what he thought of his music, my father with 
great dignity would become either as deaf as the Spanish 
statesman, who declared that a good deafness was an ex- 
cellent weapon in the game of diplomacy, or would assert, 
and assert quite truthfully, that he knew nothing about 
Fred's music, cared less and must be excused if he refused 
to discuss a topic so distasteful. 

I was not at home at the time, having been then married 
some ten years, but I questioned my younger sisters on the 
subject. My father was always accustomed to read the 
papers at breakfast. In addition to the big provincial dailies 
for which Yorkshire is famous, he took in The Times, the 
musical critic of which, incidentally, was not too kind to 
Fred's music. Nobody was allowed to read these papers until 
they had been first perused by my father. My sisters, who, 
of course, were aware of the great event which had taken 
place in London the night before and were on tenter-hooks 
to learn how Fred's music had been received, sat round in 
disciplined silence, holding themselves down, as the phrase 

130 



FREDERICK DELIUS 

is, with both hands, while papa went through his customary 
ritual. 

The breakfast went on, my father at one end of the table, 
my mother at the other. The papers rustled. Nothing was 
to be learned from my father's face. He appeared just as 
usual. He made comments on the South African situation 
which was then blowing up to the war in the autumn. In his 
customary manner he * gutted ' the papers, and then laid 
them neatly aside. For some minutes he gave his attention 
solely to the food in front of him. Then he remarked 
casually, like one mentioning a trifle of no account, " I see 
Fritz has given a concert." 

That was the sole comment in Fred's home on what was, 
after all, a great artistic event. 

The subject then dropped. My sisters stood in too great 
an awe of my father to venture the obvious inquiries. My 
mother said nothing. The deplorable incident was closed. 
Not until papa had departed for the office, and my mother 
was occupied with her household duties, did my sisters fall 
upon the newspapers and satisfy their curiosity regarding 
the triumph Fred had scored. Except for that one remark, 
almost contemptuous in its brevity, my father ignored the 
concert in St. James's Hall, which was to become a mark in 
the history of English music, just as he ignored Fred, the 
composer. He had two more years to live, and he went to 
his grave, still admitting that he had a son Frederick, but 
declining to say what he was doing or how he was doing it. 

My mother, who survived him by more than a quarter of 
a century, adapted herself exactly to her husband's attitude. 
She, too, declined to discuss my brother's music. When 
strangers congratulated her on being the mother of such a 
genius — you must remember that she lived into the period 

13* 



FREDERICK DELIUS 

when public honours were beginning to descend upon Fred 
in acknowledgement of his work — she always turned the 
subject by saying what a dear boy Fred was — how good 
looking, and then possibly relating some futile anecdote of 
his infancy, which had no possible relation to his music ! 

The St. James's Hall concert marked the end of an epoch 
in Fred's life. His settlement at Grez, his marriage, all 
ushered in the most fruitful period of his work as a com- 
poser. With this I shall attempt to deal in the next chapter. 
In the twenty-five years that followed Fred changed. I sup- 
pose this was psychologically inevitable, but I always feel 
that with the closing of the nineties I parted with the 
brother I had known as a child. It is true that we saw less 
and less of each other as the years went by, and it may be 
that the change I suspected in him was a new orientation 
towards life that I myself had acquired. 

Rightly or wrongly it seemed to me that he had com- 
pletely changed his views on a variety of matters, liking 
warmly persons and things which previously had been ana- 
thema to him. His moods, too, became uncertain and vari- 
able. This characteristic, peculiar to artists, I would not 
have mentioned had it not been unlike Fred, up to the age 
of forty. My suggestion, made to him in all innocence, that 
I might sing his songs professionally was at first turned down 
with a snap. He " loathed that kind of reclame" he 
declared. Later on he wrote and asked me, surprisingly, 
why on earth I hadn't taken up singing professionally with 
his help — that I might have sung his songs for him ! 

Before leaving the nineties I will try to give a picture of 
him culled from various family sources. He was tall and 
retained his slim, graceful figure through middle age till 
the end of his life. A little above the medium height, he 

132 



FREDERICK DELIUS 

curiously enough impressed some people as belonging to the 
Latin type, while others maintained that he was purely 
Teuton. He had very beautiful hands, which showed to 
perfection when he used to improvise for hours together on 
the piano. He was quite without self-consciousness of any 
sort or kind, and there are few great artists, I imagine, who 
were ever so perfectly simple and natural as Fred was. 
Though he inherited from my father a distinct fastidious- 
ness, he was extremely affable and engaging. Though he 
did not suffer fools gladly, he hid that fact from them with 
commendable restraint. His sense of humour was highly 
developed and his laugh was infectious. He was entirely 
devoid of mannerisms, and when he took the call at the 
St. James's Hall his modesty and simplicity — his naive air 
of being delighted at having been able to introduce his 
audience to the heights of beauty which he had scaled — 
attracted everybody's attention. With children he was 
delightful, playing with them by the hour. Nobody meeting 
him for the first time in those years would have taken him 
for a man who was already making his mark in the world 
of music. He never talked about himself, and he was quite 
free from those irritating airs of condescension which mar 
the social qualities of so many artists of distinction. He was 
an incurable optimist, always believing that everything 
would come right. Worries had a knack of falling from 
his shoulders like discarded garments. Though he was 
always in hot water at home, I never once remember him 
losing his temper. Even after the paternal thunders had 
been loosed upon his head, he was the next moment smiling 
and laughing. 



133 



CHAPTER VII 

I know that my contention that Fred's recognition as a 
composer of the first order was due to the English 
musical public, will be disputed. It will be pointed out 
that between the St. James's Hall concert in 1899, and the 
concert at the Queen's Hall in 1907, hardly a note of his 
was heard on this side of the Channel — that during that 
period he established his reputation on the Continent. 

It is true that some of his major compositions were pro- 
duced in Germany during that period, and were received 
with enthusiasm. But after that date, till the end of his life, 
the vast majority of concerts devoted to his work were given 
in England. The musical public in this country may be 
slow to adapt itself to new ideas and new forms, but I do 
not think this characteristic was displayed in the case of 
my brother's compositions. Although that period between 
1899 and 1907 was perhaps one of the most productive of 
my brother's life — it was then that he composed A Village 
Romeo and Juliet, Sea Drift and A Mass of Life — the num- 
ber of performances of his works in Germany were not 
numerous. In Paris there was one concert. Indeed, it may 
be said that what taste exists for Fred's music in France 
to-day derives its existence from the backwash of public 
esteem in this country, for up till 1923 only two concerts of 
his works, I believe, were ever given in the territory of the 
country in which he lived. If the claim that foreigners were 
the first to appreciate my brother is based on the opinion of 
great musical artists, and that these were German, I am 

134 



FREDERICK DELIUS 

content to point to the fact that there were great musical 
artists in this country, who, from the time of the St. James's 
Hall concert in 1899, appreciated Fred's genius to the full. 

Shortly after the St. James's Hall concert, Fred was able 
to purchase the house and grounds in the romantic village 
of Grez-sur-Loing near Fontainbleau, which was to be his 
home until his death, thirty-five years later. For all lovers 
of Stevenson, the Forest of Fontainbleau, of which he wrote 
so charmingly, has a special interest, and the rock near 
Brabizon, where he carved his name, is still a spot hallowed 
for his admirers. Grez has all the authentic Stevenson 
atmosphere, for he has described it at some length in his 
Essays, of Travel. " It lies out of the forest, a cluster of 
houses with an old bridge and an old castle in ruin and a 
quaint old church. The inn garden descends in terraces to the 
river, stableyard, kailyard, orchard and a space of lawn, 
fringed with rushes and embellished with a green arbour. On 
the opposite bank there is a reach of English-looking plain, 
set thickly with willows and poplars. And between the two 
lies the river, clear and deep, and full of reeds and floating 
lilies. Water plants cluster about the starlings of the low, 
long bridge, and stand half-way up upon the piers in green 
luxuriance. They catch the dipped oar with long antennae, 
and chequer the slimy bottom with the shadow of their 
leaves. And the river wanders hither and thither among the 
islets, and is smothered and broken up by reeds like an old 
building in the lithe, hardy arms of the climbing ivy." 

It was here that Stevenson's step-son, Lloyd Osbourne, 
then a boy of eight, had his first glimpse of his future step- 
father. The meeting actually took place at the old inn 
which is the same distance below the bridge as Fred's house 
is above it. In after years a friendship was established be- 

*35 



FREDERICK DELIUS 

tween my brother and Lloyd Osbourne, and as I have 
already recorded the latter was staying with him when Grez 
was evacuated at the time of the German advance in 19 14. 

I may as well give here a picture of his home at Grez, 
though the details of the description belong to a later period. 
The house was the remains of an old French chateau, 
formerly the property of the Marquis de Cazeau, from 
whom Fred acquired it by purchase. The river, on which 
Fred used to delight to row in his white boat, is separated 
from the house by a stretch of garden and orchard. My 
memories of Grez particularly, centre round the garden, for 
in some way it seemed to embody for me — this is, of course, 
an illusion, and is meaningless, except as a personal im- 
pression — the spirit of my brother's music. 

To approach it from the house one enters through a wide, 
covered portico, on the right side of which is the hall door, 
so that one drives in and enters the hall dry shod. This 
portico leads to a paved courtyard, with the stables and 
coach house on one side and an ' English garden ' on the 
other. This was surrounded by grey and lichened walls, 
fringed by a riot of glowing flowers. Against these walls 
Fred grew peaches, plums, pears, apples and figs. The last 
time I saw this section of the garden was in the glow of a 
hot, September sunshine, and I have carried away since then 
an indelible picture of late roses — great, sweet, overblown 
flowers — flaming dahlias and bushes of mauve Michaelmas 
daisy. Along the edges of the flower beds and paths were 
tomatoes, which grew in such profusion that the store rooms 
were filled until long after Christmas. 

In the middle of the garden is an arbour, immediately 
below which lies the lily pond and rustic bridge. Beyond 
is the orchard proper. Shady trees and cool green lawns lead 

136 



FREDERICK DELIUS 

down to the river, here, very wide and placid, and fringed on 
either bank by trees growing in grass meadows. The atmo- 
sphere is reminiscent of MarvelFs Line, ' green thoughts in 
a green shade \ The whole expanse of the garden is seamed 
with quaint grey paths. The place is watered by a spring, 
which bubbles up from underneath the vaulted cellars of 
the house, and pours its ice-cold water into the river. 

There is a romantic background to this pleasaunce. 
Frowning over the garden is an old tower, called La Tour 
de la Reine Blanche, all that remains of a medieval castle 
where years ago an unfortunate lady was imprisoned for an 
affaire du coeur, which banished her from the court to the 
seclusion of the country, there to ponder over her indis- 
cretions. 

The centre of the house is a big hall, out of which a wide, 
oak staircase winds to the floor above. Here was my 
brother's bedroom. It was once the salon, and still retains 
the double folding doors, painted blue and gold, of the 
period of powder and patches. 

To the right is a door leading to a bathroom and dressing- 
room. To the left is a corridor with two bedrooms on one 
side, and on the other wide windows overlooking the court- 
yard and the garden. At the end of this passage was my 
brother's music-room — a large, sunny room with the in- 
evitable French parquet floor. 

It has been said that to poke one's nose into the domestic 
privacy of anybody is an impertinence. It has been main- 
tained quite violently by admirers of my brother's works — 
some of them his staunchest friends and companions — that 
to lift the veil even ever so slightly from his private life 
would be an outrage. In the process of writing these 
memories of my brother I have been subjected to a form of 

i37 



FREDERICK DELIUS 

bombardment by those who hold that the only part of an 
artist's life with which the public have any concern is his 
work. So strongly are these views held by my brother's 
admirers — and I respect the sincerity of their views — that 
attempts have been made to get me to withdraw my manu- 
script from publication — and this in spite of the fact that no 
one has had an opportunity, until now, of reading what I 
have written. Agents have even been employed to put 
what they euphemistically call ' interesting propositions ' 
before me, in the hope of persuading me not to write this 
book. 

I have ignored these protests, and I have refused to suc- 
cumb to the attempts that have been made to exert 
pressure on me. My brother was an outstanding figure in 
the world of music of his period. Since his death his 
reputation has increased instead of diminished. He is 
eminently a subject for a biography — unless, of course, the 
absurd proposition is to be maintained that all biographies 
are in the nature of things an impertinence. It is the object 
of a biography to give as far as possible a true and lifelike 
picture of the subject. To do this the background of the 
subject's pilgrimage through life must be sketched. This 
inevitably includes a variety of what may seem, detached 
from their contexts, petty and trivial matters. I propose, 
therefore, to give a description of the room in which my 
brother composed so many of his now famous works, and 
to present such other details of his home as remain in my 
memory. 

In the music-room my brother had two grand pianos, 
which were, of course, the main pieces of furniture. The 
walls were lined with shelves full of books and manuscripts. 
Through the big windows sunlight pours upon a Persian 

138 



FREDERICK DELIUS 

rug and some tapestries, and lights up some delightful 
paintings by his wife. In addition there were several stands 
for music and one or two Rodin statues. 

Leading out of the music-room are two or three other 
rooms, forming the short left wing of the house, which is 
built in the shape of an ' L ' with an upright piece on the 
end of the toe. Above are storerooms, which were rilled 
with apples and tomatoes, arranged by Madame Greppie, 
Fred's perfect cook, like soldiers on parade. Near these 
storerooms is a big, sunny studio where Fred's wife, who had 
great distinction as an artist, used to work. Windows in 
this studio open on to a flat roof, from which can be ob- 
tained a glorious view of the countryside. At the foot of 
the staircase of this wing is another group of rooms, two or 
three of which were always kept in readiness for special 
friends of Fred's — for the house at Grez was always, from 
the time my brother purchased it, a resort to which 
musicians and composers turned naturally for companion- 
ship, solace and recreation. From a room at the top of the 
main staircase, the windows looked out upon the lovely old 
twelfth-century church of Grez, with its turreted tower, 
which forms a kind of medieval gateway into the village 
itself. Rambling and picturesque, with more rooms in it 
than I have managed to describe — some of them almost 
veritable concert halls — the house has an " atmosphere " 
which no modern building, however much more convenient 
to run, could produce. 

Through the peace of this old house — still more through 
the devotion and understanding companionship of his wife 
— Fred secured at last the atmosphere in which his genius 
could bear its full harvest of fruit. In the chronological list 
of his works, compiled by the late Mr. Philip Heseltine in 

139 



FREDERICK DELIUS 

1923, this fact is brought out clearly. During the first nine 
years of his residence at Grez some of his most important 
works were composed. In the first year he wrote the 
Nocturne for Orchestra, Paris. In the two succeeding 
years he added six to the number of his songs, completed 
a revision of The Dance Goes On, to which he gave the 
title of Life's Dance, and composed what some critics regard 
as his most important work A Village Romeo and Juliet, 
an opera based on Gottfried Keller's novel. In 1902 an 
opera in one act, called Margot La Rouge, was composed, 
together with his famous Appalachia, which after being 
produced for the first time at Elberfeld in 1904, was given 
at his second London concert in 1907. 

To complete the list of his works during those first nine 
years at Grez — in 1903 he composed Sea Drift for baritone, 
solo, chorus and orchestra — in 1904 and 1905 A Mass of 
Life, one of his most wonderful compositions, and in the 
two following years Songs of Sunset, Cynara and his cele- 
brated Brigg Fair. 

On October 3rd, 1901, my father, who had played such 
a strange part in Fred's life, died at the age of eighty. He 
passed away as he had lived — dictatorial, generous to a 
fault, incredibly stubborn. It was characteristic of him, 
although then four score years, that he pursued the way 
of life he had marked out for himself with such Prussian 
exactness until within six or seven weeks of his death. 
He continued to manage every detail of the lives of his 
family — at least of those who remained at home — ruled 
his household with Jove-like severity — never once did his 
Olympian lectures on manners, dress and the proprieties 
cease! — went down to his office each day, where his em- 
ployees gladly forgave his severe exterior in consideration 

140 



FREDERICK DELIUS 

of his unfailing generosity, of which some of them took 
full advantage — and showed himself ' On 'Change '. 

Then one day he felt slightly unwell. Remembering the 
dreadful time he had had with a stiff neck — that childish 
complaint stood out for him like an oasis in a desert of 
perfect good health! — he went to see a doctor. The doctor 
advised that at his age he should take life more easily. He 
was persuaded to give up business. The result, I think, 
may be regarded as inevitable, taking into account the 
psychology of my father. 

Suddenly the method of life which he had followed since 
he had first come to Bradford, a young man, was violently 
altered. The physical reactions were immediate. He had 
a stroke and paralysis ensued. After lingering for a few 
weeks, he passed away, having never been reconciled to the 
career which Fred had chosen for himself, and still grimly 
ignoring the fact, as something discreditable and disgrace- 
ful, that of the twelve children that survived him, one was 
engaged in the ungentlemanly occupation of a composer ! 

So carefully had my father, in his conversation with his 
fellow citizens, avoided any mention of what ' Fred was 
doing ' that it really seemed, from some of the local 
obituaries — this in spite of all the press attention Fred's 
concert in London two years before had attracted — as if 
the family connection with music was derived solely from 
my father. They mentioned that he was a member of the 
committee of the Bradford Subscription Concerts, and that 
he would always be remembered as one of the Germans 
in exile, who in 1856 formed the Bradford Liedertafel. 
" Amongst the promoters," this notice went on to say, were 
" Messrs. Schlesinger, Phillip, Hoffman, Hurter, Wiechers, 
Fiedler and Speyer. The last named, who was in the firm 

141 



FREDERICK DELIUS 

of Speyer and Delius, acted as conductor, and the practice 
of German part-songs for male voices was carried on for 
many years. Each winter, in conjunction with the Man- 
chester Liedertafel, a concert was given in a room over the 
old exchange." Having exhausted this subject, the writer 
mentioned the fact that Mr. Delius left behind him a widow, 
nine daughters and three sons, one of whom had achieved 
" some distinction in the musical world by his com- 
positions." 

In spite of some rather serious commercial losses, my 
father died a comparatively rich man. In the disposal 
of his property he was obviously anxious to display 
impartiality. After making proper provision for my mother, 
he divided his estate among his children, but from each 
of their shares he deducted such amounts as had been paid 
to them since their coming of age. In this arithmetical 
calculation he included, in estimating Fred's share, the cost 
of Solano Grove, and the totals of the monies that had 
been paid over to him in the shape of his annual allow- 
ances and such bills as had been met out of the paternal 
exchequer. This total was a substantial sum, for Fred was 
then thirty-nine, and for some fifteen years at least had 
been in receipt of a remittance. When deducted from his 
share, it left him with precisely five hundred and thirty- 
nine pounds, four shillings and ninepence. 

In a life of my brother my father has been described as 
mean and grudging. That is a charge, unfortunately, which 
is often brought against testators whose one desire is to be 
strictly just and impartial. While I think my father was 
very unwise in his psychological attitude towards Fred, it 
must be accounted to him for righteousness that it was his 
money, however grudgingly given, which made it possible 

142 



FREDERICK DELIUS 

for my brother to establish himself in a career of which 
my father disapproved. It has been said that the allowance 
given him was small, and not in any way proportionate to 
my father's wealth, but here, in estimating his attitude, the 
reader, if he would do justice to my father, must remember 
that there were eleven other children for whose welfare my 
father considered himself responsible. That he should show 
extravagant generosity to one child who had bitterly dis- 
appointed him by not remaining in the business, was too 
much to be expected. It certainly would not have com- 
ported with my father's sense of justice to have financed 
Fred at the expense of his brothers and sisters. 

Was my brother handicapped by lack of money? Would 
his genius have blossomed and born fruit earlier had all 
such sordid anxieties been removed from his path? I won- 
der. It is the old problem as to whether struggles, and the 
self-discipline that necessarily goes with such painful ex- 
periences, are bad for the budding genius. The lives of 
other artists suggest that these temporal worries are not 
without their uses. 

From a worldly point of view I think Fred was born 
under a more or less lucky star. Except for those months 
in America, after he left Solano Grove, he was never in 
want, and always had enough money to enable him to live 
more or less comfortably. His wife, to whose companion- 
ship and devotion he owed so much, inherited a small 
income from her mother. Uncle Theodore at his death 
left him a few thousands — I believe the allowance Fred re- 
ceived from my father ceased on his coming into this little 
estate — and in 19 13 he inherited another small property 
from a wealthy aunt — my father's sister — who resided in 
Berlin. 

H3 



FREDERICK DELIUS 

The death of my father dissolved the tie which linked 
the main body of the family to the West Riding of York- 
shire. Bradford is not a residential town, and my mother 
disposed of Claremont and moved down with my un- 
married sisters to the south of England, first to the neigh- 
bourhood of Windsor, and afterwards to the New Forest. 
Though my father was dead, his dominance still asserted 
itself from the grave, and true to the Victorian precepts of 
wifely obedience my mother continued to ignore the fact 
for another quarter of a century that Fred earned his living 
as a composer. Some of my sisters and myself had 
' married into the West Riding ', but Bradford had become 
for us merely a business centre, associated with our hus- 
bands' commercial or professional activities, and no longer 
the city where our ' home ' was. It was left to Fred, curiously 
enough — Fred, the exile — to re-establish the family link 
with the city in the boundaries of which he was born. 

Our family was now scattered. Claremont was closed, and 
of all the twelve children who had passed their years of 
childhood within its walls, none remained in Bradford. 
Diverse interests, the responsibilities of marriage, had dis- 
persed our large family to the four quarters of the globe. 
I heard at regular intervals from Fred, and in 1902 he 
paid me a short visit at Harrogate, to which we had re- 
moved. It had been my intention, while he was with us, 
to sing to him, but unfortunately through a variety of 
causes my intention was never carried out. I say unfortun- 
ately, because it is conceivable he might, and certainly 
would, if he had approved of my singing, have helped me 
in the career which I made spasmodic efforts to follow. 

I may be forgiven a brief personal note. I had been 
trained by a pupil of Madame Marchese, who rashly sug- 

144 



FREDERICK DELIUS 

gested to my father that I should be permitted to take up 
singing professionally. His reply to that request was, of 
course, what would be expected. If there were any more 
suggestions of that sort I would not be allowed to have 
singing lessons at all! I once sang for Florence St. John, 
who, somewhat to my embarrassment, embraced me 
tenderly after my performance and declared : " My dear, 
you have a gold mine in your throat." I may say that from 
the financial standpoint there it has remained, without 
being either dug or minted. But I was in great request at 
charity concerts in the West Riding. At a concert given 
at the Arts Club in Bradford in 191 1 I sung several of 
Fred's songs, of which the programme mainly consisted. 

Naturally, I wrote to Fred about my ambitions, but it 
was not until he had heard me sing that he could be in- 
duced to give any opinion. Then he was completely 
enthusiastic, declaring what a pity it was I had not taken 
up singing professionally so that I could have sung his 
songs. With a vanity which may be considered pardonable, 
I have always felt that I could have interpreted them as 
he meant them to be sung. 

Two years elapsed before I saw Fred again. I was then 
resident in Bonn on the Rhine, where I had taken my small 
family of children, in order that they might learn German. 
While I was there I had a letter from Fred asking me to 
come to Elberfeld, where his opera Koanga was to be pro- 
duced at the Opera House for the first time. It was a very 
interesting and exciting experience for me. On my arrival 
I was met by my sister-in-law, whose acquaintance I had 
not made until then. She told me that Fred was very busy 
with the rehearsal, and that we were to go straight to the 
theatre. It was my first experience of anything of the kind, 

K 145 



FREDERICK DELIUS 

and it was all the more intriguing because of what I may 
call the family atmosphere. Part of the scenery had been 
designed by my sister-in-law, and was extraordinarily 
effective. I saw Fred, then, in quite a new light. He was 
conducting the rehearsal in person, and I detected distinct 
traits of our father's martinet methods in the way in which 
he treated the cast. His wife and I were the only spectators, 
and for several hours I was absorbed in the production. 

The title-role was taken by Clarence Whitehill, an 
American, who afterwards sang at Covent Garden. The 
performance was under the direction of Fritz Cassirer, and 
other members of the cast were Rose Kaiser, who took 
the part of Palmyra, and Charlotte Lengenberg, who played 
the part of Clothilde. On the evening of the rehearsal 
Whitehill came to our hotel in rather a bad state of nerves. 
He was concerned as to how the audience would accept his 
costume, or rather lack of it, for he had to appear with his 
body completely blacked and wearing only a leopard skin. 
In those days nudism was not the feature of the stage that 
it is to-day. There was a risk, in 1905, that the audience 
might disapprove, in which case the opera might be doomed. 
There was another anxiety, too. Rose Kaiser was dissatisfied 
with her costume, and showed a dangerous inclination to 
develop a temperamental sore throat in consequence. 

I suppose all first performances are liable to these stresses 
and strains but as I was new to the experience I make 
mention of them here. My sister-in-law inspected Palmyra's 
costume, suggested various alterations, and by her tact and 
sweetness tided over the difficulty. But WhitehhTs case 
was almost beyond human aid. He had to be black, and 
he had to wear only a leopard skin. 

On the great night itself we repaired in good time to the 

146 



FREDERICK DELIUS 

theatre, where my sister-in-law, leaving nothing to chance, 
took me to Palmyra's dressing-room. There she suggested 
still more alterations in the disputed costume, which were 
charmingly effective. I may mention that Palmyra was sup- 
posed to be a very beautiful Quadroon, and that the tragic 
story of Palmyra and Koanga is one of America's favourite 
legends. 

When it was almost time for the curtain to go up, Fred, 
my sister-in-law and I repaired to our box. I do not know 
in what state were the nerves of my companions, but as 
they were more immediately interested, I expect they were 
even more jumpy than mine. Our qualms with regard to 
Clarence Whitehill's costume were almost immediately set 
at rest. When he appeared upon the stage, his imposing 
and magnificent figure drew a round of applause from the 
audience, and we could breathe again. There was no doubt 
about the success of the opera. The enthusiasm was won- 
derful, and Fred was called before the curtain again and 
again. I remember, as I witnessed this tribute to his art, 
getting a picture of the Fred who used to come into the 
schoolroom at home and play to us and tell us of his 
ambitions, which then only figured as dreams, impossible 
of realisation. And here he was, in the heart of musical 
Germany, ' arrived ' ! 

As far as I know there was only one complaint about 
Koanga, which was received with great appreciation by the 
critics, and that came from Whitehill. He visited us at our 
hotel the next morning to talk over the great evening. He 
told Fred that he loved his part and enjoyed every note 
of it, but added, " Next time you write an opera do make 
me a white fellow; you have no idea the difficulty I have in 
cleaning myself white again." 

147 



FREDERICK DELIUS 

When I was in Elberfeld, Fred took me for walks round 
the town, our talk being all of his music. I remember how 
he conducted me on the pendant tramway over the river — 
a species of transport called the ' Schwebebahn ' which I 
had never seen anywhere else — and how amused he was 
at my nervousness, for we seemed suspended by a wheel 
over the Wupper. Fred at that time was working at his 
opera, The Village Romeo and Juliet, for which his wife was 
making the English translation. 

The performance of Koanga took place in the spring of 
1904. Towards the end of the same year I had an invitation 
from Fred to visit Diisseldorf, where his tone poem for 
orchestra, Life's Dance, which was a revision of his The 
Dance Goes On, written three years earlier, was given. It 
was produced and conducted by Dr. Julius Buths, who was 
a great admirer of my brother's work and did much to 
establish his reputation in Germany. Dr. Buths was a very 
small man with a bushy beard, and so extremely tempera- 
mental that his excitement became intense while he was 
conducting. I remember that as his emotions got the better 
of him, he twisted one leg round the other. He was a won- 
derful conductor, but extremely short sighted. In spite of 
this defect, he copied out the whole score of this work on 
small sheets of paper and presented it to Fred as a souvenir. 
Again I had the pleasure of witnessing the enthusiastic 
appreciation which the German public extended towards 
my brother's work That he should have been received with 
such popular favour in Diisseldorf is a curious commentary 
on the variations of the public taste. 

The conductor of the Municipal Orchestra at the time 
was Dr. Haym. He had got into very hot water for per- 
forming Fred's music at the concerts, for the town council 

148 



FREDERICK DELIUS 

who paid the piper claimed that they were entitled to call 
the tune, and that the tune they wanted was something 
very much lighter than Delius. They threatened to relieve 
him of his post if he persisted in performing this strange 
style of music. Dr. Hyam, however, was not a man to be 
brow-beaten, especially by a body of men who obviously 
didn't know good music when they heard it, and continued 
to perform Delius's works at his concerts. It was in this way 
that Dr. Julius Buths first had his attention called to my 
brother, ever after which, as I have stated, he remained his 
most devoted champion. 



149 



CHAPTER VIII 

I have chosen the Queen's Hall concert of 1907 as a land- 
mark in my brother's career because it was undoubtedly 
the cause of his reintroduction to the British musical 
public. Working and living abroad, Fred very naturally 
had his attention directed towards the Continental concert 
halls. Most of his musical friends were foreigners. Regular 
performances of his works had taken place in Germany, 
and inevitably, following the line of least resistance, as it 
were, he sought a hearing for his compositions in the land 
where he had already won appreciation. The Queen's Hall 
concert was to change all this. 

Its most notable effect was to win the ungrudging 
championship of Sir Thomas Beecham, then Mr. Beecham, 
the conductor, composer and operatic impresario, whose 
genius has done so much for the advancement of musical 
taste in this country. How much Fred owed to Beecham 
it is impossible to calculate. This is certain, however, that 
the British public would have taken much longer to ap- 
preciate the beauties of my brother's music if it had not 
been for Beecham's tireless efforts on his behalf. I shall 
have to deal with this aspect of his career later on; I only 
mention it now to emphasise the importance of the Queen's 
Hall concert of 1907, for the success of that concert would 
have seemed to have inspired Beecham to a determination 
never to rest until he had enthroned Delius in the musical 
taste of the British public. 

I have never known who managed my brother's publicity. 

150 



FREDERICK DELIUS 

It is quite possible that he never had any accredited pub- 
licity agent. Always he shrank from the sort of notoriety 
that comes from the pens of paragraphists. It is true, of 
course, that there is a business end to every concert, that 
halls have to be hired, performers paid for, and that in 
dealing with the financial aspect of a concert, the artful 
aid of advertisement is essential. Never, however, until 
the latter end of his life, when he was made a front-page 
story, did Fred permit his personality to intrude upon his 
work. 

It is true that he contributed some amusing personal 
notes of his life in the Latin Quarter to the biography 
published by the late Mr. Philip Heseltine in 1923, but 
here nearly everything is about his friends, and the jokes 
he played on them, and nothing about his own personality. 
For many years I have kept a very complete collection of 
cuttings about my brother. Among these cuttings I have 
only found one ' story ' dealing with the man himself. It 
was an attempt by some journalist to sum up my brother's 
character, and he is so gloriously incorrect in his estimate 
of him that I will quote it at length. 

" Frederick Delius, a Bradfordian, has chosen to live most 
of his artistic life abroad, and for this reason is not 
familiarly known to his countrymen, though he is a great 
personage in European music. A pale man, aesthetic, 
monkish; a man with a waspish wit; a man who allows his 
wit to run away with him so far that he is tempted to 
express opinions that he does not really hold. He is a man 
who pursues a path of his own, indifferent to criticism, 
and perhaps indifferent to indifference. Decidedly a man 
of most distinguished intellect, and a quick, eager but not 
responsive personality, but not a musician who marks an 

151 



FREDERICK DELIUS 

epoch as does Richard Strauss, and not a man who has 
formed a school as Debussy has done/' 

As far as I know this was the only attempt made in the 
press to reveal the personality of the composer until Fred 
was made a Companion of Honour, and that tragic picture 
of him appeared in the Royal Academy, and what the 
Americans call ' the sob sisters ' got on to his track and 
wrote entirely imaginary accounts of him, leaving for the 
most part his music unmentioned. 

The press work that preceded the Queen's Hall concert 
on November 22nd, 1907, was therefore inevitably of the 
scantiest. There was one lengthy article, however, I think 
in the Daily Telegraph, written by A Fellow Student, which 
I will quote at length. 

" A great deal of water has flowed under the bridges 
since Frederick Delius and I were students together in 
Leipzig, the old town which Ambros described as the 
Athens of the Pleisse, for some reason not easily under- 
stood by residents there a quarter of a century ago. Look- 
ing back down the long avenue of time, it is pleasant to 
note how accurately we students gauged the divine fire of 
genius in others of our generation. Of course, all whom 
we then regarded as budding Brahmses, future Wagners, 
and so on, did not come into the kingdom anticipated for 
them. But certainly some have achieved greatness, while 
others have had a degree of greatness thrust upon them. 
Among the former were Ferruccio Busoni, Alexandre Siloti, 
Arthur Friedheim, who at that time lived a great deal in 
Leipzig, Frederick Delius of Bradford, and Percy Pitt of 
London; while of the latter the most striking example that 
comes readily to the mind is Christian Sinding. Of an 
older generation of musicians was the late Edward Grieg, 

*5* 



FREDERICK DELIUS 

a man at whose feet we all, as students and later, more or 
less silently worshipped. England, or, rather, English 
musicians, owe far more to this great little man from the 
Far North than most people are aware of, and during his 
prolonged sojourn in Leipzig, while he was preparing a 
work for a forthcoming Birmingham Festival, he was a 
universal dispenser of kindnesses and hearty encouragement 
to the youthful aspirant. Under his paternal wing he took 
Frederick Delius at a time when the family authorities 
wished the young musician to adopt a mercantile career. 
As a fact, is was a letter from Grieg that definitely settled 
matters. Delius is now a musician of wide repute, from 
Paris to Berlin, as was said the other day, when his piano- 
forte Concerto was played at a Promenade Concert. Yet 
he has still to fight his way in the land that gave him birth. 
Signs are not wanting, however, of an advancing change. 
Next Friday, Mr. Fritz Cassirer, the conductor of the 
Komische Opera in Berlin, who directed the production of 
Delius's operas, Koanga, in Elberfeld, in 1904, and of The 
Village Romeo and Juliet, in Berlin last January, is giving 
a concert, at which will be heard, for the first time here, 
Delius's remarkable symphonic variations for orchestra and 
(final) chorus on a genuine Negro slave tune, to which he 
has given the title Appalachia, which, be it noted, is the 
aboriginal name of America. It is an open secret that if 
proper encouragement is forthcoming further works by 
Delius will be produced in the course of a few months. 

" Apropos of Koanga, it is rather amusing to think that 
had it not been for the appointment of Mr. Cassirer as con- 
ductor of the Opera at Elberfeld, this work might still be 
lying, a happy hunting-ground for flies, upon the musty 
shelves of the theatre library. For three years the full score 

153 



FREDERICK DELIUS 

had remained there, and had been inspected by several 
successive conductors, everyone of whom declared his in- 
ability to read the notes, so large was the paper used and 
so small the handwriting. Such a comparative trifle, how- 
ever, did not deter Mr. Cassirer, who quickly detected in 
it music out of the common. But even he has confessed 
that he Was unable to study the score by night, since if he 
held the lamp up in order to read the flute and other high 
instrumental parts, those for the bass instruments were all 
in total darkness, while the opposite was the case if the 
lamp were placed on the table. In the cast of Koanga was 
Mr. Clarence Whitehill, whose Wotan was so much admired 
in Der Ring, at Covent Garden last summer; and great was 
the amusement when he appeared as a Negro slave garbed 
in a costume similar to that so frequently seen when Miss 
May Yohe played in London. The first performance came 
near to falling through from the ' illness ' of the prima 
donna, which being diagnosed, proved to be due to nothing 
more dangerous than the want of a sufficiently becoming 
costume. Delius's early experience as an orange planter in 
Florida opened his eyes to the beauty of the genuine slave 
tunes, which experience was utilised in Koanga as well as in 
Appalachia. . . . 

" Beyond the compositions already mentioned, Delius is 
the author of a Norwegian suite, derived from the music 
to Heiburg's drama, which, if I remember rightly, figured 
in the programme played at the defunct St. James's Hall 
some eight years ago; Paris: the Song of a Great City, 
which Mr. Henry Wood once set down for performance at 
a Promenade Concert, but was compelled to withdraw 
owing to lack of time for necessary rehearsals; Life's Dance, 
a tone-poem for orchestra; Margot La Rouge, a music- 

J 54 



FREDERICK DELIUS 

drama in one act; Sea Drift, for chorus, orchestra, and bari- 
tone solo, which Mr. Henry Wood has included in the 
programme of the Sheffield Festival next autumn; Brigg 
Fair, a brilliant English rhapsody upon the old Lincolnshire 
folk-song of that name; and, perhaps, most important of 
all, since it represents its composer at his ripest, the large 
choral work, with orchestra and solo voices, entitled A Mass 
of Life, the book of which has been derived by Mr. 
Cassirer from Nietzsche's Zarathustra. More fortunate than 
some of his compatriots, Delius has found a publisher for 
his work, large and small; but, on the other hand, he is, at 
four-and-forty years of age, only now beginning to be heard 
in his native land." 

This was the longest and most important reference to Fred 
in the press before the concert. There were other refer- 
ences, of course, but few of them were of the kind that 
excite public curiosity. On their own confession, most of 
the musical critics had found themselves completely out 
of their depth after the performance eight years earlier, and 
almost nothing of Fred's had been heard in this country 
since. I remember Mr. E. A. Baughan declaring after the 
concert, the position in which so many of his fellow critics 
found themselves. Years ago he said, " Some of us younger 
critics (as we then were) hailed Frederick Delius as a new 
voice in music, whereas the older writers looked on his com- 
positions as a personal insult. Indeed one of some promi- 
nence publicly anticipated with delight the performance of 
Noveno to be given at Covent Garden on the morrow as 
being an occasion on which he would at least hear music. 
Much has happened in London since 1899. Richard Strauss 
has come to the front and young British composers have 
taken a delight in shocking the orthodox." 

*55 



FREDERICK DELIUS 

Now the question Mr. Baughan asked himself — and there 
were others who put the same question to themselves — was 
whether with his more mature judgment he would think 
so highly of Delius's music? 

That remnant of the musical public who recalled my 
brother's music at St. James's Hall but had not had an 
opportunity of listening to any of it during the interval of 
years in German concert halls, must have posed similar 
queries to themselves. 

With no publicity worth talking about, with no back-wash 
of appreciation from the Continent, with a public that had 
almost completely forgotten the very name of Delius, it was 
quite on the cards that the concert might be a fiasco. But 
Fred who had come over from France for the occasion was 
serenely indifferent to this possibility. As long as his work 
could be rendered adequately that was all he really minded, 
and in this matter nothing was left to chance. 

Fritz Cassirer, the successor to Hertz at the Elberfelder 
Stadtheater, had come over on purpose to conduct the New 
Symphony Orchestra which had been augmented for the 
occasion to over a hundred players. My daughter, Dorothy, 
who went to see her uncle on the afternoon of the concert, 
tells an amusing anecdote of Cassirer and Fred and Mr. 
Henry Wood, as the latter was then. Fred had invited her 
to tea and she had gone to call for him at Queen's Hall. It 
was decided that the best place for tea was the Vienna Cafe, 
a restaurant which I think has since vanished, but was 
situated then at the junction of Theobalds Road and High 
Holborn, close to the Museum. The party of four set out — 
Fred, the two famous conductors and the girl of seventeen. 
They made the journey on foot and, during the course of the 
walk, my daughter found herself completely forgotten. The 

156 



FREDERICK DELIUS 

three men were discussing how a certain movement in 
Appalachia should be conducted. The argument grew hotter 
and hotter. The two conductors differed from the composer 
of the work and also differed from one another. By the time 
they reached High Holborn the controversy was at its height. 
Cassirer could no longer contain himself. Stopping in the 
middle of the pavement, he indicated with his hands how 
he proposed to conduct the passage. Mr. Henry Wood there- 
upon demonstrated how he would deal with it. Fred joined 
in, adding his descriptive gesticulations to the others. They 
stood there serenely unconscious of the traffic, my daughter 
looking on from the background with mingled feelings of 
amazement and amusement. The pavement was completely 
blocked. From behind this obstruction a flood of humanity, 
quite as astonished as my daughter, began to pile up. Then, 
as always happens in London on such occasions, a policeman 
arrived on the scene and, by courteously requesting them not 
to cause any further obstruction, awoke them to mundane 
matters. 

The concert differed in one important respect from that 
given at St. James's Hall. Now, for the first time, the London 
public were to hear one of Fred's purely orchestral works. 
On the night the Hall was reasonably full but any lack of 
quantity was more than made up by the quality. It was noted 
as a remarkable fact that " almost all our prominent young 
composers were present and were by no means the least en- 
thusiastic in their praise of their fellow countryman's 
music ". But among the audience — an important fact for 
Fred's recognition in the land of his birth — was Mr. Thomas 
Beecham, then a young man of twenty-eight. 

How the concert appealed to the public is best arrived at 
by quoting contemporary records. The Daily Telegraph, 

*57 



FREDERICK DELIUS 

which had published the account by a Fellow Student, which 
I have already quoted at length, was enthusiastic : 

To those who have any real enthusiasm for progress in 
English musical life there may be the suspicion of something 
sarcastic in describing Mr. Frederick Delius as a new com- 
poser, having regard to the fact that he, a Yorkshireman by 
birth, and a Londoner by school education, has for some years 
been a subject of much discussion in Continental musical 
circles— a fact that has been referred to in these columns more 
than once in the last twelve months. But though delay and 
neglect may make some impatient, even they forgive, or, at 
least, temporarily forget, when the time of fulfilment arrives 
and their hopes are at length realised. Already, a week ago 
an account was given in the Daily Telegraph of Mr. Delius's 
career, from orange planter to composer, and need not be re- 
ferred to again. We, too, may now join hands with our Con- 
tinental musical friends, and even go further, and congratulate 
them upon being somewhat quicker to recognise a genius when 
they meet him than we are in this more slowly moving 
country. With his Appalachia Mr. Delius made last night 
in Queen's Hall an impression that surely will be lasting. 
Modern of the moderns he is, but with this difference from 
most, that for him refinement of expression and beauty 
of diction are of as great importance as they were with 
Beethoven, Bach, Wagner, or, indeed, any of the polyphonic 
giants. No mere rambler up and down the gamut is Mr. 
Delius. He sets forth to execute a well-defined scheme, look- 
ing neither to the right hand nor to the left, and he has the 
genuine capacity to carry to the end his purpose. 

Appalachia is the title of a work which consists of some 
fourteen orchestral variations, with short choral finale, upon 
a genuine slave song sung nightly outside Mr. Delius's house 
what time he lived in Florida as orange grower, the singer be- 
ing a quondam slave. In these variations are depicted the com- 
poser's mental impressions of the vast virgin forests of the 

■58 



FREDERICK DELIUS 

country traversed by the Mississippi, the miles on miles of 
untouched nature, and the old negro himself plays spiritually 
an important part in them. The tune employed as a basis is 
of haunting character, and is easily followed through the con- 
tinuous variations, while the chorus — save in the final climax, 
where it plays an all-important part of its own — is most 
happily employed in either creating or strengthening the 
atmosphere. Atmosphere, obviously, is the keynote of the 
work. From the mysterious introduction to the final chorus 
we are existing in an atmosphere that is strongly emotional, 
and that becomes more intense as one's knowledge of the com- 
position and its meaning grows. It is this very emotional 
quality, in fact, that must make its appeal to those who dive 
below the surface and hunt for the deeper-lying feeling under 
the amazing mass of brilliantly clever technical polyphonic 
workmanship. 

That Appalachia will shortly be repeated is one's earnest 
desire. For, admirable though yesterday's performance was, 
it left a good deal to be desired on the choral side, the chorus 
employed — a selection from the Sunday League choir — being 
apparently quite incapable of sustaining accurate intonation. 
At the close Mr. Delius was summoned several times to the 
platform to bow his acknowledgments by a critical audience 
that, if somewhat sparse downstairs, entirely filled the gallery. 

Mr. E. A. Baughan of the Daily News was perhaps more 
critical : 

It may be expected that Frederick Delius's Appalachia 
variations, performed for the first time in England last night, 
will be both praised and condemned. My own impression after 
hearing the work in bits at a rehearsal and as a whole last 
night are mixed. Frankly, what I heard in an empty, gloomy 
hall impressed me more vividly than did the work performed 
as a whole. The repetition of sections enabled one to grasp 
the composer's subtle and individual harmony, and there was 

l 59 



FREDERICK DELIUS 

no question of the whole effect. That suffers, I think, from 
the form of the work not being quite suitable to the subject. 

Mr. Delius has endeavoured to depict in music his early- 
impressions of the Mississippi country, and to this end he has 
employed as his theme an authentic slave song, which, by the 
way, has a close resemblance to a well-known theme in Rigo- 
le.tto. The composer has built fourteen variations on this 
theme, all of them remarkable for atmospheric effect. The 
theme itself is but little varied, and that no doubt is part of 
the composer's plan. The slave song makes the connection 
of one variation with another, and the interest lies in the har- 
monic and contrapuntal treatment. In ordinary variations 
composers seem to do their best to present their themes in 
such extraordinary guises that they become practically new. 
Mr. Delius's plan is theoretically more artistic, but in practice 
it must be confessed that the constant repetition of a theme 
which is so simple that it really does not lend itself to elaborate 
treatment is monotonous. Then to produce his picture of 
negro pathos each variation ends in a diminuendo, which to 
my ears makes the composition stand still, and explains why 
I was more impressed in hearing it by sections than when it 
was played straight through. 

Mr. Delius has written stronger stuff than this Appalachia, 
which may be considered a jeu d } esprit. On the other hand, I 
expect to see the composer blamed for not having insisted on 
his known mastery of scoring. That he has not is one of the 
merits of the work to my ears. Every effect he has planned 
comes off without an exhibition of obvious cleverness, such as 
makes Strauss's Salome dance, which followed the Delius 
work, sound banal and commonplace. It is rare that such 
reticence is shown by modern composers. The scoring of 
Appalachia is always in the picture. It produces the effect that 
is required, and does not make one gasp with astonishment. 
The harmony, individual and extraordinary as some of it may 
be, is conceived in the same artistic spirit, and the composer 
has resisted the temptation to make an elaborate use of the 

1 60 



FREDERICK DELIUS 

chorus, which enters, pianissimo, only in the ninth variation. 
The choral effects of the work are very beautiful and un- 
conventional. 

Indeed, the whole work, in spite of some sense of lengthi- 
ness and of the monotonous effect of the constant repetition 
of the slave song, is a remarkable achievement. This is indi- 
vidual music that we heard last night— not only individual in 
its manner, but individual in its mood. The composer has 
painted his picture in delicate and elusive tints, and has 
eschewed anything like an expression of emotion out of keep- 
ing with the effect he has evidently desired to make. Certainly 
the voice of Mr. Delius is a new voice in music. The conduc- 
tor, Herr Fritz Cassirer, and the composer were most enthu- 
siastically applauded. 

As for the reception by the public, I will quote one report : 

Rarely has a British composer received so cordial a reception 
as that which was accorded to Mr. Frederick Delius last night 
at Queen's Hall, after the performance of his Symphonic Poem, 
Appalachia. The audience cheered continually for some 
minutes in recognition of a British work of the highest merit. 
When the composer appeared on the platform there was a 
further demonstration in his honour. It certainly was a 
memorable scene. 

An eye-witness of that reception has supplied me with an 
account of the scene. The people in the crowded galleries 
stood up and clapped. On the floor of the hall the audience 
were no less unrestrained. Delius appeared like one in a 
dream, not at the sensation his music had created, but as if 
he were lost in surprise at his own composition. When the 
continued applause and the cries for the composer became at 
last so insistent that he had to take notice of them, he rose 
with an air of reluctance and made his way to the platform. 
Never, I am convinced, could any man at such a moment 

l 161 



FREDERICK DELIUS 

have appeared so completely detached from his surround- 
ings. His handsome, ascetic face seemed like that of a man 
awakened a little rudely from the contemplation of his own 
thoughts. His expression was that of somebody mildly sur- 
prised. As the applause grew louder and louder a slow smile 
gathered upon his lips — rather a smile of amusement and 
surprise than one of appreciation. His air suggested that 
the audience had no need to show this appreciation of the 
man, Frederick Delius; it was only his work that mattered. 
One is accustomed these days to hearing the thunders of 
applause that come through from the Queen's Hall across 
the wireless. In 1907 it was something new. But that demon- 
stration seemed to have no effect upon Delius. He stood there 
with an air of simple modesty, which was real, and not a 
pose. There was nothing about his manner which even 
remotely suggested what we call to-day the " high-brow ". 
The audience had been listening to something quite new in 
modern music, but the composer of that music looked not at 
all like what the public might have expected. He was just a 
remarkably good-looking man of forty-five, who didn't seem 
his age and was obviously amazed by all the publicity. As 
soon as it was possible for him to retire, he stepped down 
from the platform and became once more a completely de- 
tached and contemplative member of the audience. 

The most important feature of the concert was not so 
much the applause of the general public as the effect it pro- 
duced upon Mr. Thomas Beecham. From that evening it 
was almost as if he had dedicated his life to establishing an 
appreciation of my brother's music, in the heart of the 
British public. I believe I am right in saying that he never 
subsequently conducted a concert in which some composition 
of my brother's was not included. By this means, by a slow 

162 



FREDERICK DELIUS 

process of infiltration, he established my brother's reputa- 
tion in this country. In 1909 he gave a complete performance 
of A Mass of Life; in 19 10 he produced A Village Romeo 
and Juliet) in 191 1 a Delius orchestral concert. These were, 
of course, outstanding features. In addition, he insisted on 
the public hearing Delius at the orchestral concerts of the 
Royal Philharmonic Society, the London Symphony Orches- 
tra, and the National Sunday League. 

That his task was not an easy one, that it required an 
unswerving faith in his own judgment and artistic taste, is 
proved by a note on page fifty-two of Philip Heseltine's Life 
of my brother. Referring to the second Delius orchestral 
concert given by Beecham in 19 14, Mr. Heseltine remarked : 
" It was undoubtedly to this concert that Mr. Edwin Evans 
referred when he wrote in the English Review (September 

It was only too apparent that if professional musicians loved 
music at all, which is not always the case, it is emphatically 
their music that they love and nobody else's. Last year the 
concert hall of one of our leading institutions was taken for 
a programme of music by one of the most prominent com- 
posers of British birth. Scarcely a single member of the pro- 
fessional staff put in an appearance, and the students abstained 
with an unanimity which almost suggested that they had been 
warned. 

The attitude of English critics towards Delius was wittily 
summed up a few years ago by Sydney Grew, who 
then wrote: 

In Germany Delius is accepted as a master. Here in Eng- 
land opinion is divided, those who do not know his works dis- 
puting the judgment of those who do. 

163 



FREDERICK DELIUS 

I am not a music critic, and I have already expressed the 
opinion, which I know will be contested, that Fred's work is 
appreciated more widely in England to-day than it is on the 
Continent — that the British public, while slow to take it to 
their hearts, have, once they have learned to understand its 
beauty, become ardent devotees of my brother's genius — 
that to-day, as for some time before his death, his music is 
heard more often in the land of his birth than on the Con- 
tinent. I will quote, however, the opinion of the late Mr. 
Philip Heseltine on this important subject of the influence 
of Beecham on my brother's reputation in Great Britain. The 
passage is taken from the Life, published by John Lane in 
1923: 

The lead given by Beecham in his performance of the 
orchestral works up and down the country has not been fol- 
lowed by other conductors to anything like the extent one 
might have expected, and that would have been fully justified 
by the success these works achieved with the public; and the 
English musical Press has been singularly apathetic towards 
Delius until quite recently [1923]. Let me be quite clear on 
this point. It is not that the critics have failed to notice each 
new work with a certain amount of appreciation when it is 
first performed. There have been favourable notices in plenty, 
but no general recognition of the fact that Delius was more 
than a promising talent among many such. Although it was 
evident from the persistence with which he performed his 
work that Beecham set more store by Delius than by any 
other living composer, there was found no critic in England 
to share his enthusiasm and to help him in his up-hill task 
of familiarising the public with an unknown and somewhat 
difficult composer by writing, not notices of a few lines, but 
articles providing definite information and throwing light on 
the music. ... In thus enlarging upon our indebtedness to 
Sir Thomas Beecham for the greater part of our knowledge 

164 



FREDERICK DELIUS 

of Delius's work, I have no wish to overlook the excellent per- 
formances that have been given by Granville Bantock in the 
north of England, by Balfour Gardiner, and, during the last 
two or three years [prior to 1923], Sir Henry Wood in 
London. But the credit of establishing Delius's reputation in 
this country belongs to Beecham alone. 



165 



CHAPTER IX 

The ideal life for an artist, at any rate for a musician, 
should be one of contemplation in the heart of 
serenity. Thanks to the care and devotion of his wife, 
Fred came as near to securing this ideal existence in the last 
twenty-seven years of his life as is possible upon this earth. 
The War uprooted him for a while, but even amidst that 
catastrophe he managed to retain that inward peace essential 
to great creative work. The physical tragedy which fell upon 
him, robbing him of his sight and the use of his limbs for 
some nine long years, never affected his mind, which re- 
mained clear and eager for impressions until the end. 

But from the point of view of the biographer that period 
of his life upon which we are now entering is the most diffi- 
cult. While he still retained all his physical powers, his life 
was devoted to his work. His experiences were those of the 
mind which cannot be set down in narrative form. The story 
of his early storm-tossed days provided a certain atmosphere 
of drama, which was entirely lacking from the later period 
of his life. 

Before taking up again the account of his musical 
achievements I think it would not be amiss to pause and 
attempt to give in a short chapter some sort of picture of my 
brother's attitude towards life. It must be a very imperfect 
one, for the contacts between us, owing largely to geographi- 
cal circumstances, grew fewer and fewer towards the end. Not 
many letters of my brother's have been published, but there 
is a remarkable series of them in Mr. Cecil Gray's Peter 

166 



FREDERICK DELIUS 

Warlock; a Memoir of Philip Heseltine, published in 1934, 
by Jonathan Cape. Here and there in those letters there 
stand out illuminating sentences, which express my brother's 
views on life and art. 

The friendship between Philip Heseltine and Fred was of a 
very remarkable kind. The attraction between them in the 
first instance was music. Heseltine, then a boy of sixteen 
at Eton, had fallen under the spell of my brother's art. Hap- 
pening, in the later part of 19 10, to be on a visit to Fontain- 
bleau with his uncle, Heseltine was astonished to learn that 
Delius lived at Grez-sur-Loing, and to learn also with delight 
that his uncle was a friend of Fred's. To meet the composer 
in the flesh was the consummation of all his ambitions for 
the moment. From that meeting this curious friendship 
between a man nearing fifty and a schoolboy not yet seven- 
teen began and survived for many years. 

Mr. Cecil Gray writes : 

The relationship with Delius was of a deeper and more 
comprehensive order than that of ordinary friendship; it com- 
prised also that of master and disciple, and almost of father 
and son. In the years of Philip's adolescence, indeed, from 
sixteen onwards till about twenty-three Delius was not merely 
his guide and mentor in questions of music and art generally, 
but also in the affairs of ordinary life, and it is admirable and 
touching to see from their correspondence how often Delius 
would lay aside his work in order to write long letters of help 
and advice to his young friend, concerning religion, sex, the 
choice of a career and all the other hundred and one problems 
which beset adolescence. In return Delius found in Philip 
not only an indefatigable propagandist for his art, but also an 
invaluable assistant in such matters of transcriptions of or- 
chestral scores, correcting proofs, and in innumerable other 
services of a similar nature. 

167 



FREDERICK DELIUS 

The whole key to this remarkable correspondence, which 
should be read in its entirety by those who wish to get a 
glimpse of my brother's mind, is contained in one of the 
earlier letters. It was written when Fred was fifty to a boy of 
eighteen, who had only just left Eton. The characteristic of 
this correspondence, which must strike every one who per- 
uses it, is the complete lack of condescension on my 
brother's part. Fred at that time was approaching the zenith 
of his fame. He had, indeed, written most of the work by 
which he will be remembered. And yet you will look in 
vain for any suggestion that in writing to this boy he was 
consciously stepping down from his heights to mingle 
patronisingly with a precocious child. If we excluded the 
attitude of adoration which Philip Heseltine felt for him — 
if we knew nothing about the relative ages of the two corres- 
pondents — the reader would find it difficult sometimes to 
decide which was the older and more experienced. 

In this particular letter he announced his intention of 
telling Heseltine in his letters what he really thought on any 
subject or question, adding that that was what very few 
people could do. Following this declaration Fred proceeded 
through the years to speak his mind on all the problems 
which were propounded to him by Heseltine. I do not sup- 
pose that epistolary advice is always a considered opinion; 
it probably represents only the mood of the moment; but 
now and again we get some interesting sidelights on what I 
may call the history of my brother's mind. Heseltine had 
asked him if he should take up the Civil Service, which he 
hated, as a career, or music, which he loved. 

In his reply Fred declared that a man wasted his life who 
did something which he hated, or in which he had no 
interest. "I do not believe in sacrificing the big things of 

168 



FREDERICK DELIUS 

life to anyone or anything." He condemned the idea of 
Heseltine sacrificing his life to his mother's wishes. It was 
a common failing of mankind to exaggerate the duty they 
owed to their parents, who very seldom sacrificed anything 
for their offspring. He then went on to instance his own 
career. He had been exactly the same age as Heseltine 
when faced with a similar problem. Should he submit to 
the wishes of his parents, or strike out on his own? "I 
chucked up everything and vanished to America." There 
was always a chance of making a success of one's life if one 
did what one loved, and he ended the letter by declaring 
that he had never had any regrets for his breakaway from 
home. 

The reader of these memories will recognise in Fred's 
easily thrown off statements that " he chucked up every- 
thing and went to America ", the odd tricks that the human 
mind plays. The phrase suggests that he turned his back 
upon the flesh-pots of Bradford and went into voluntary 
exile in Florida. What really happened, of course, was that 
he satisfied my father that never would he be a wool and 
noil merchant, and that in desperation my father pur- 
chased Solano Grove for him and sent him out there hoping 
he would make a business of growing oranges. He had 
taken an exactly similar step with my eldest brother, Ernest, 
providing him with funds to start sheep-farming in New 
Zealand. Ernest made as great a mess of his sheep as Fred 
did of his oranges. Fate, which brought him in touch with 
Ward, gave Fred the chance of establishing his life on the 
lines he had always wanted; Providence did not see well to 
order the same arrangement for Ernest. The " everything " 
Fred chucked up was a business he loathed, and an atmo- 
sphere he detested, exchanging all this for a life of contem- 

169 



FREDERICK DELIUS 

plation and freedom from the carking influence of paternal 
control. 

While I am dealing with this subject of Fred's attitude 
towards his family, I may as well try to be perfectly honest. 
Of Fred's music the world can judge. It stands, and should 
stand, quite apart from the man himself. It is true that 
it was the main part of his life — perhaps the only part 
that mattered. But I am trying to write a biography, and 
it is essential, I think, in such an attempt, to tell the 
truth. 

I have not hesitated to give a picture of my father as he 
really was — his imperious temper, the Prussian ruthlessness 
with which he governed his family, his generosity, his 
foibles. I must try and do the same with Fred. 

To begin with, I must emphasise the fact that we were 
not a united family. Our numbers precluded such a desir- 
able state of affairs. All my sisters married except one, and 
the links that bound us together parted under the stress of 
diverse interests. I was the only one in the family who 
after my father's death kept in touch with Fred. I visited 
him abroad, and rarely missed an opportunity of seeing him 
when he came to England. But the others had hardly any 
associations with him. He once visited my mother, when 
she was living in Windsor in 191 2, but that, I believe, was 
the last occasion on which he saw her. He was present at 
my father's funeral, but that visit of ceremony was almost 
the last contact he made with the family, except through 
myself and my daughters, Dorothy and Margaret. 

What was the reason? I am convinced it is not the one 
outlined in the letter to Philip Heseltine, which I have just 
quoted. It may be true that one can overdo the idea of the 
duty one owes to one's parents. Every individual soul has 

170 



FREDERICK DELIUS 

his or her life to live, and except in a tribal state the undue 
accentuation of the bond between parents and children may 
be unwise. Accepting all this — though I do not believe for a 
moment this represented Fred's attitude as a young man — 
there still remains what I may call the economic bond. If a 
parent continues to supply the means of living up to nearly 
middle age, there should be, I think, a certain reciprocity. 
And in Fred's case this economic bond was of considerable 
importance. 

It is all very well to say in the light of after events 
that my father should have recognised genius, and 
have used his wealth to enable that genius to develop in the 
atmosphere it needed. The fact remains that my father did 
not recognise Fred's genius, wasn't — and this is a regrettable 
fact — interested in it, and governed his domestic expendi- 
ture by what he considered to be a fair and impartial distri- 
bution of the contents of his purse among the members of 
his big family. He supported Fred handsomely all through 
his youth, and except for those months when he was lost 
in America, through most of his adolescence. He continued 
to pay him an allowance until he was thirty-six or thirty- 
seven. And if in his will he deducted, with meticulous care, 
all the expenses he had been put to from Fred's share of his 
estate, this, many will agree I think, was an act of imparti- 
ality and justice. 

I have painted Fred as a young man, warm-hearted and 
affectionate, unfailingly kind to all his sisters, the j oiliest 
brother any girls could have. How did it happen, therefore, 
that he lost touch with the family — even such a disunited 
family as ours? It was due, I think, in the first case largely 
to my father's dominance, an attitude which was carried on 
by my mother for some twenty-odd years afterwards. And 

171 



FREDERICK DELIUS 

my father could never understand Fred. He was a source 
of perpetual bewilderment to him. From the earliest days 
the views Fred expressed refused to fit in with my father's 
attitude towards life. In our very machine-run home he was 
like a cog that didn't fit. He would say things with a de- 
liberate intention of shocking my father. I can remember 
my father exclaiming in a puzzled way, " I can't understand 
the boy! What is his object in making these fantastic re- 
marks? " Not only were his expressions fantastic, but his 
attitude of mind seemed in those days to us bizarre. Like 
our father, we were inclined to take as a serious expression 
of opinion what was intended for irony. We were all 
shocked, I remember, in after years, when he solemnly told 
a reporter that he was born of " poor but honest parents ". 
I see now, of course, that the reporter was pressing for petty, 
personal details — the material for a " gossip " paragraph — 
and that Fred, who hated that kind of publicity, holding 
that the only part of an artist that mattered to the world at 
large was his art, gave him what he expected to get. 

This habit of " guying " the public about himself — never 
about his art, though — remained with him right to the end. 
When the Freedom of the City of Bradford was conferred 
upon him, he actually told a reporter, " I climbed a good 
many times over the piles of coal and played in the nooks 
and corners of Bradford." This was perhaps his most 
bizarre flight of imagination. Obviously it was intended to 
provide that sort of background for genius, for which the 
papers, unfortunately, have too great an appetite. Let any 
man of distinction mention any simple, homely thing he 
may have done, and immediately it is unduly emphasised, 
as if with the object of throwing into relief his present 
eminence. 

172 



FREDERICK DELIUS 

The West Riding of Yorkshire is particularly favour- 
able and sympathetic to the production of such anec- 
dotes, from the story of Colonel North, who sold papers 
outside Leeds Station as a barefooted newsboy, and later 
became a millionaire, to a host of other similar incidents. 
Fred's statement was made in accordance with this tradition, 
and had, alas ! absolutely no foundation in fact. 

Fred, as I have told, was, as a boy, most fastidious. He 
was extraordinarily particular about his clothes — a young 
dandy, in fact. Again and again my father had to pay very 
considerable bills, which Fred had run up in his craving for 
the aesthetically-perfect in the matter of sartorial art. And 
this continued until he was a grown man. Quite apart from 
the fact that he would never, in any circumstances, have 
taken his amusement by climbing over piles of coal, the 
strict domestic supervision to which he was subjected as a 
boy would have made it impossible. Often he would play 
truant from school, and he had a delightfully gregarious 
pleasure in making contacts with all kinds and classes of 
people, but to get himself dirty, or to spoil the state of his 
clothes — never ! 

Undoubtedly this attitude of Fred's was a great factor in 
alienating his father and mother, so that they became almost 
strangers to him. Once he had settled down in Grez they 
had very little knowledge of his life or work. As an illus- 
tration of this I may mention that my father never saw 
Fred's wife, to whom Fred owed so much, nor did my 
mother. I have a letter from Fred written from Ashamp- 
stead Green, Pangbourne, Berks., which makes reference to 
what was, I believe, his last meeting with our mother. It 
was written on October 7th, 19 12. My mother survived for 
nearly twenty years, taking on at the age of ninety an 

173 



FREDERICK DELIUS 

amazing new lease of life, but Fred and she never saw each 
other again. 

He had expected to see me at Birmingham for the per- 
formance of Sea Drift. Disappointed at my non-appearance, 
he asked me if I couldn't come up to London and 
meet him at the Kensington Palace Hotel, where he was 
staying. 

" I go to see Mama on the eighth. You might perhaps go 
there." There followed extraordinarily precise details about 
the trains and the exact time he intended to spend at 
Windsor, where my mother was then living. The letter 
made it perfectly clear that, though he was now fifty, he 
funked the interview with my mother and badly wanted me 
to be there to help him over the more difficult moments. 
If anything prevented me coming on the eighth, which he 
hoped would not happen, he begged me to be present on 
December 7th in London for the production of his Mass of 
Life. 

During the war Heseltine, who was staying with D. H. 
Lawrence in Cornwall, wrote to him about some plan of 
going out with the author to lead an ampler and fuller life 
in America. (I have referred to this bizarre proposal in 
another chapter.) Fred seems to have got the impression 
from the letter that Lawrence intended to give up writing. 
He wrote back protesting. 

Lawrence must be stopped at all costs. Fancy abandoning 
the pursuit of one's art, and neglecting the cultivation of 
one's great gifts — " those most precious and rare and mys- 
terious things coming from one knows not where or why " — 
for the planting of potatoes or tobacco ! 

Of the war and all the emotions it engendered he had no 
illusions. I shall have to tell elsewhere how painful I found 

174 



FREDERICK DELIUS 

this attitude — for personal reasons. Miss Vera Brittain, in 
her Testament of Youth, has summed up, partially at any 
rate, my brother's views of the war. 

The causes of war are always falsely represented; its 
honour is dishonest and its glory meretricious, but the chal- 
lenge to spiritual endurance, the intense sharpening of all 
the senses, the vitalising consciousness of common peril for 
a common end, remain to allure those boys and girls who 
have just reached the age when love and friendship and ad- 
venture call more persistently than at any later time. The 
glamour may be the mere delirium of fever, which as soon 
as the war is over dies out and shows itself for the will-o'-the 
wisp that it is, but while it lasts no emotion known to man 
seems yet to have quite the compelling power of this enlarged 
vitality. 

Fred saw how the dangerous influence of mass suggestion 
was being shamelessly exploited to set the nations at one 
another's throats. His definition of patriotism, I imagine, 
was very much the same as that given by Dr. Johnson — not, 
of course, the patriotism of self-sacrifice, but the patriotism 
as propounded by the propagandists and wire-pullers. 

In his letter to Heseltine on this subject he saw the only 
salvation for the world, when the madness had died down, 
in art and artists. Wiser folk, he hoped, would turn to them 
for a little truth. They alone, he declared, could make 
humanity understand " the hollowness of patriotism and 
jingoism and all the others ' isms '." 

Some of his comments in this correspondence were de- 
lightfully trenchant. As a disciple of Nietzsche he tried 
before all things to be a realist. Amateurism, a fondness for 
old methods and a deplorable inefficiency, constituted the 
weakness of the English nation. He supported this conten- 
tion by asking Heseltine to consider the way we were run- 

175 



FREDERICK DELIUS 

ning the war — never at any time waking up to realities. But 
Heseltine was not to think that the public were in any worse 
state than it had been before; at every period it had been 
rotten, and never had there been an artistic epoch ! 

In these remarkable letters, which as I have said before, 
should be read by all students of my brother's life, he refers 
again and again to music and all that it meant to him. His 
advice to Heseltine was to keep his soul intact — not to be 
misled by mannerisms and jargons, not to make the mis- 
take of thinking because a thing is new it is not necessarily 
good or bad. There was only one quality for great music, 
and that was emotion. What was wanted in British music 
was idealism and enthusiasm. British composers when sin- 
cere were usually dull — when they sought to be original they 
usually ended up by imitating the latest continental fashion. 
A quarter of a century ago it had been German; now 
everything had to be in the French or Russian mode. 

One thing comes out clearly in this correspondence. Fred 
believed in hard work. Nothing was to be attained by 
merely dreaming. He had acquired the gift of application 
to an amazing degree, and his whole life gives the lie to 
the theory, which my father held, that the existence of a 
composer is a lazy one. When in the throes of composition 
the twenty-four hours were never long enough for Fred. 
By 1929 he had composed over two hundred works, and 
even when he was blind and paralysed the assistance of his 
friend, Eric Fenby, made it possible for him to add to this 
number during the six remaining mutilated years of his 
life. 

He was always telling Heseltine that he shouldn't 
blame his luck, but should look to the real cause of his 
professional disappointment, and that real reason was his 

176 




FREDERICK DELIUS IN 1908, AGED 46 



FREDERICK DELIUS 

failure to push his ideas to their materialisation with suf- 
ficient energy and suite dans les idees. " Concentrate," was 
his advice, and "do not diffuse your energies in so many 
things." 

Of the seriousness with which he took his art, everybody 
who came in contact with him is aware. His work was 
sacred. It was the best he could do — never the second best. 
When hardly any composition of his had been performed 
in public, he refused to allow The Magic Fountain to be 
given at an important concert in Germany, after all the 
arrangements had been made, for the reason, good and 
sufficient to him, that it was not as perfect as he could 
make it. 

I can give an illustration of his meticulous conscientious- 
ness where his music was concerned from my own experi- 
ence. It was rather disappointing. I had been singing my 
brother's songs in the West Riding with some success, and 
the proposal was made to me that I should give a concert 
in London. Delighted with the prospect I wrote to Fred 
and told him what was afoot. This was in 19 12. By return 
of post I received a communication from Grez, dated 
May 2 1 st : 

Dearest Clare, 

You will do me the greatest favour by not giving a recital 
of my songs in London. 

Then he gave his reasons. First, the songs I proposed 
singing were old. Secondly, the recital of them should only 
be given by a first-class artist. I was only an excellent 
amateur. The attraction of the concert would be the fact 
that I was the composer's sister. This would make the 
performance ridiculous, and it was quite easy to guess how 

M 177 



FREDERICK DELIUS 

a certain section of the popular Press would deal with this 
aspect of the performance. He had nothing against me 
taking up singing professionally, though personally he 
thought this would be a mistake as I had left it too late — 
" but do not try to battre monnaie by being my sister and 
singing my old songs." He was not a song-writer, he de- 
clared, and he ended, except for a postscript, by begging 
me not to be hurt by what he had said, declaring that he 
had always liked me better than any of the others, and 
asking me to let this state of affairs continue by not doing 
something for which he could never forgive me. My 
' affectionate Fred ' then summed up in a postscript . . . 
" This is the sort of reclame I loathe." 

No unfortunate ambitious sister could have received a 
letter more crushing to all her hopes. Needless to say I 
did not give the recital. Looking back now I realise that 
Fred was perfectly right. Determined to defend his art 
from the cheapening effect of popular publicity he could 
not have acted otherwise. 

The British people differ from most continental races in 
the fact that they are interested in religion. I do not mean 
by this that they are necessarily more religious-minded, but 
they do show some concern for their neighbour's favourite 
brand of theology. In the larger towns nobody much cares 
what a man is, but in innumerable villages the respective 
labels of Church and Chapel divide the population into two 
social groups. Stevenson called the Scottish race " good 
haters for the love of Christ ", and at the call of religion 
you can still count upon the streets of Belfast being filled 
with broken heads. I mention this just to show that there 
will still be people curious to know — indeed will think it a 
matter of importance — what Fred's religion was. 

178 



FREDERICK DELIUS 

He had, of course, been brought up Protestant, but his 
faith had been merely a matter of outward form, and had 
never, I am convinced, influenced him in the slightest de- 
gree. Early in life he shed all forms of ecclesiasticism and 
became a disciple of Nietzsche. 

We often discussed this subject when we were together, 
the last time being when I was at Grez. Fred believed that 
death was the end of everything. When the machinery of 
the body ceased to function, annihilation came. Nothing 
would make him credit that there was a hereafter. If any 
man can really be an atheist, I suppose Fred was an atheist. 
Judging from his talk it might be said of him, as it was 
said amusingly of Charles Bradlaugh, " There is no God, 
and Bradlaugh is his prophet." I used to ask him where 
he thought he got his inspiration from. Perhaps he found 
that question absurd; he certainly never answered it, at any 
rate to my satisfaction. I suppose nowadays he would have 
crushed me with references to Pavlov's " conditioned re- 
flexes ", which I understand is the very latest explanation 
of everything that happens to us. 

With my own creed of survival after death he had no 
patience whatsoever. When I suggested to him that on his 
passing over he might find himself exactly as he was, minus 
his tragic physical disabilities, and tried to explain the 
enormous influence which I believe thought in this world 
has on our existence on the other side, he jumped on me 
with both feet. He made me read Nietzsche's life to him, 
possibly hoping that this would prove a cure for what he 
regarded as my insanity. 

I remember how once during a walk at Grez when we 
had got on to the subject of a future life he exploded 
violently. " Really, Clare, I can't imagine how an intelligent 

i?9 



FREDERICK DELIUS 

woman like you can fill your head with such nonsense. Take 
my advice and leave it alone until you know more about it." 
In vain I protested that I did not see how I could possibly 
follow this advice, for if I left ' it ' alone, how was I ever 
to find out more about it or become any the wiser? 



1 80 



CHAPTER X 

From 1907, at rapidly decreasing intervals, perform- 
ances of my brother's works were given in this country. 
At first regarded as somewhat advanced and ultra- 
modern by the general public, they became, in the end, 
if not popular in the ordinary sense, deeply appreciated 
by a steadily growing body of music-lovers. For Fred, the 
years that followed, excluding those of the Great War, were 
ones of immense fertility. In 1907 he had reached the age 
of forty-five. He had had to wait a long time for recogni- 
tion, at any rate in his own country, but it had come at 
last, and under its encouraging influence his musical genius 
seemed to take wings and soar to greater heights. 

Having deliberately set before myself in writing these 
memories of my brother the absurdity and futility of at- 
tempting to estimate his works, I shall content myself with 
a bare account of some of his more important first per- 
formances in England. In 1909 he conducted in person a 
performance of Appalachia at Hanley. Fred was not a suc- 
cessful conductor. He was apt to lose himself in the music 
and forget all about the orchestra. 

That Hanley performance, which was a great success, 
afforded a wonderful example of that amazing energy and 
devotion to his art which is characteristic of Mr. Thomas 
Beecham, as he then was. For him, my brother's music 
was one of the greatest gifts ever presented to the world. 
To make the world appreciate it was the ideal he had set 
himself with the enthusiasm of a Crusader. Some twenty 

181 



FREDERICK DELIUS 

years were to elapse until, in the famous six-day concert at 
the Queen's Hall devoted entirely to my brother's works, 
he was to see his almost lifetime task accomplished; but 
never once, in the face of disappointment or in temporary 
retirement, did he falter in his faith. During the prepara- 
tions for the Hanley performance, he seemed to be possessed 
by a demon of energy. Few people, I imagine, even engaged 
in the most strenuous occupations, could have done more 
work in a day than this famous conductor. 

In the morning he was busy with rehearsals in London. 
As soon as they were over he rushed down to Hanley to 
train the chorus for Appalachia. In the evening he was 
conducting at the Queen's Hall. He must have put in at 
least sixteen hours of hard work during those days, and life 
was made more complicated for him by the fact of his 
domestic ties, for Mrs. Beecham was at this time expecting 
the birth of a child, and a nurse was already in the house. 

Another Delius devotee, who came over especially from 
Germany, was Dr. Haym, the concert conductor from Elber- 
feld, who was arranging at the time to produce the work 
in the following December. I think 1909 was the last year 
in which Fred ever wielded the baton at any public per- 
formance. Besides Appalachia, he conducted the premiere 
of A Dance Rhapsody at the Three Choirs Festival at Here- 
ford, and his fantasy for orchestra, In a Summer Garden, 
at the London Philharmonic Concert in September of the 
same year. Music meant so much to him that he lost him- 
self in it completely, and quite forgot that his business as 
a conductor was to exercise control — a habit which I am 
told is peculiar to many composers. Recognising that it was 
not his metier, he abandoned all further attempts at con- 
ducting performances of his own works. 

182 



FREDERICK DELIUS 

On February 22nd, 19 10, occurred another memorable 
event in my brother's life. This was the first English per- 
formance of his opera, A Village Romeo and Juliet, which 
had been given to the world three years previously in Berlin. 
From a purely musical point of view it was an immense 
triumph, but its dramatic quality was marred to a great 
extent by the stage presentation. Among the ' props ' was a 
complete merry-go-round, which was too big and clumsy 
for the stage. How it was received may be gauged from 
the critique which appeared in the columns of the Daily 
Telegraph : 

It was obviously appropriate that Mr. Thomas Beecham 
should have been the first English conductor to bring to a 
hearing an opera by his compatriot, Frederick Delius. For 
we music-lovers owe to the conductor almost the whole of 
our knowledge of Delius's music since he, with orchestra, 
presented to the English public in the last year or two the 
mighty Mass of Life and such symphonic works as Paris, 
Brigg Fair, Appalachia — works all of which, with others, 
have been repeatedly heard in Elberfeld, Dusseldorf, 
Munich, and elsewhere abroad. Mr. Beecham, in point of 
fact, has successfully played the part of an enthusiastic 
propagandist, and his production at Covent Garden last night 
of Delius's most recent opera, The Village Romeo and Juliet, 
set a seal upon his efforts to familiarise the British people 
with the Yorkshire composer's music. 

Produced by Hans Gregor and Fritz Cassirer at the 
Komische Opera, in Berlin, early in 1907, The Village Romeo 
and Juliet met with a considerable success. For his book, 
Delius — or rather Madame Delius — has gone to the charming 
short story of the Swiss author, Gottfried Keller, known as 
Romeo und Juliette auf dem Dorfe, the main lines of which 
are preserved in the English text-book of the opera. The 
story is a simple one— almost too simple and undramatic 

183 



FREDERICK DELIUS 

one might have thought to have attracted the attention of a 
composer whose views on music as expressed in his own 
compositions are evidently so advanced. Two Swiss peasants, 
Manz and Marti, farm fields that are separated only by a 
strip of more or less derelict land, the possession of the 
Black Fiddler, the only use of which now is to afford a 
playground for Sali and Vrenchen, the children of the 
peasants. Unhappily, the Black Fiddler has no means of 
proving his ownership, since his identity can be proved only 
by the peasants, who alone have the requisite knowledge. 
They, for their part, prefer to get rid of the Black Fiddler, 
and as the years go by they encroach with their ploughs 
upon his strip of land. A mutual discovery of each other's 
depredations leads to a quarrel between the peasants, which 
develops into a blood-feud, and ultimately brings ruin upon 
Manz, who becomes a lowly tavern-keeper, while Marti sells 
his all except the dilapidated cottage and his strip of a 
garden. 

Meanwhile the peasants' children are growing up — six 
years elapse between the first and second scenes— and their 
youthful affection is ripening in spite of the opposition of 
the fathers. One — for them, happy — day Sali and Vrenchen 
meet again at the cottage door, when the former, now come 
to man's estate, induces his whilom youthful companion to 
visit their old playground — the waste land of the Black 
Fiddler. Here they are discovered by the infuriated Marti; a 
fracas ensues, Sali strikes him down by means of his own 
stick, with the result that on his recovery Marti loses both 
memory and reason. Vrenchen alone is left, for the garden 
and the cottage have been used to defray Marti's debts. 
Vrenchen, sipping her coffee for the last time in her bare 
room, is joined by Sali, and they, realising the futility of 
their mutual passion owing to the parents' opposition, dream 
of the might-have-been and agree to have one merry evening 
together ere Vrenchen goes forth into the world to earn her 
livelihood as a maidservant. Off to the fair they go, to join 

184 



FREDERICK DELIUS 

in the dancing; but are compelled to leave abruptly by the 
contumelious behaviour of the merrymakers. On again, 
then, now to the " Garden of Eden ", a dancing-place of ap- 
parently less high repute. There they dance to the tunes of 
the Black Fiddler until darkness sets in. Feigning friendship 
for the young couple, the Black Fiddler performs a mock 
ceremony of marriage, and himself leads the procession that 
accompanies them home. A dance at midnight, and again 
up the hill to the old playground, where Sali realises the 
position, realises, too, that for Vrenchen and himself death 
could be the sole solution of their insurmountable difficulty; 
a boat, a broad stream — at sunrise the former is found, but 
empty, and the corpses of the lovers are discovered floating 
upon the waters. 

There, roughly is the tale upon which Delius has based his 
opera. True, he has modified Keller somewhat, more especi- 
ally in respect of the dream, for Keller's characters dream 
their own dreams. Delius's dream an identical dream — that 
of their marriage. But the main points are preserved. How 
has Delius treated them in terms of music? For many years 
we have known him to be a musician accomplished and 
richly endowed, sincere and intensely earnest. Now, all these 
qualities are found in abundance in his Romeo and Juliet. 
Throughout, his grasp of the atmosphere never fails him, 
and atmosphere plays a very large part in this idyll. More- 
over — and this in a modern composer of advanced views is 
remarkable — the strength of Delius's music lies as much 
in the reticence of it as in the force. Even in the lively scene 
of the fair, where others might easily have been led into 
temptation, Delius never becomes sensational. Indeed, the 
opera is entirely free from sensationalism of all kinds — 
even to the point of being downright undramatic — unless 
there is something of sensationalism in a very modern 
composer, equipped with a full knowledge of the latest de- 
velopment in technique, actually employing the purely 
melodic devices that are so often voted old-fashioned and 

•8 5 



FREDERICK DELIUS 

antiquated by the go-aheads of to-day! Delius is essentially 
a symphonist, and a symphonist— to the detriment, it may 
be said of the drama — he is even in his music-drama, there 
especially in the interludes between the scenes and in the 
dream music and in similar passages; while the melodic flow 
of the music, warm, lovely music it is, of the duets between 
the lovers — is that of a Norwegian folk-tune, which forms 
the basis of their duet in the hut before the dream — is beauti- 
ful. The orchestra, under Mr. Thomas Beecham's alert 
direction, drew every ounce of poetry from the closely woven 
score; and the fact that the dramatic action is apt to drag its 
footsteps somewhat slowly along, and that a quickening here 
and there would increase the contrast, which is sometimes 
too weak, seem to be defects that are quite easily remediable. 
But the remedy should be tried — for example, why not omit 
the entire prologue? — it is worth the attempt for reasons that 
are obvious, in that anything is for good that will bring the 
' purple patches ' which abound in the opera into closer 
connection. 

... A fairly large audience received Delius's opera very 
sympathetically, and undoubtedly would have exhibited a 
greater friendliness had the dramatic element been on the 
same level with the poetic, which is very high indeed. 

Altogether my brother composed six operas — Irmelin, 
between 1890 and 1892; The Magic Fountain, 1893; 
Koanga, between 1895 and 1897; A Village Romeo and 
Juliet } between 1900 and 1901; Margot-la-Rouge, 1902, and 
Fennimore and Gerda, between 1908 and 19 10. Of these 
Irmelin, The Magic Fountain, and Margot-la-Rouge have 
neither been published nor produced. As I have already 
recorded, The Magic Fountain was to have been given a 
premiere at the Weimar Opera House sometime in the first 
half of the nineties but was withdrawn by Fred at the last 
moment, because he was not completely satisfied with his 

186 



FREDERICK DELIUS 

work. Koanga also has never been published. The fate of 
Fennimore and Gerda was curious. All arrangements for 
its first performance in Germany had been made when the 
war broke out, and it is evidence of the internationalism of 
art that this work was given at Frankfurt-am-Main in 
October, 19 19, some three months after the signing of the 
Versailles Treaty. 

The year (19 10) which saw the presentation of A Village 
Romeo and Juliet at Covent Garden was also notable for 
the production of Brigg Fair, an English rhapsody for 
orchestra, at Basle. This, perhaps one of his most famous 
works, was such an immense success that before the year 
was out it had been played in nearly every concert hall of 
importance in Germany. It was given for the first time in 
England at the Halle Concert in Manchester on November 
9th, 191 1. 

I remember Fred telling me that the basis of this 
work was due largely to the interest of his friend, Mr. 
Percy Grainger, in folk-song lore. It was he who took down 
from the lips of a Lincolnshire singer the words and tune 
of the ballad of Brigg Fair, out of which Fred made his 
beautiful rhapsody. The first three stanzas have such a 
charming romantic atmosphere- — are, indeed, so redolent 
of the English countryside — that I will quote them. 

" It was the fift' of August 
The weather fine and fair, 
Unto Brigg Fair I did repair, 
For love I was inclined. 

" I rose up with the lark in the morning, 
With my heart so full of glee, 
Of thinking there to meet my dear, 
Long time I'd wished to see. 

187 



FREDERICK DELIUS 

" I looked over my left shoulder, 
To see what I could see, 
And there I spied my own true love, 
Come tripping down to me." 

An eminent critic has remarked somewhere about my 
brother's work that with him " melody was only one thread 
or stratum in the substance, just as necessary as, but not 
more necessary than, the rest." I recall somebody quoting 
this critique in connection with the Manchester performance 
of Brigg Fair, and adding, " Mr. Delius thinks in two or 
three musical dimensions. That is not the case with the 
average listener, to whom harmony appeals as the enhance- 
ment of melody, which is the main matter. One needs to 
exercise a delicate ear and an imaginative apprehension in 
listening to such music as Brigg Fair. Its speciality lies in 
its poetic hue and harmonic fluidity; in that aspect it is a 
remarkable piece." 

Strangely enough Brigg Fair was to have been given at 
Bradford in the winter of 19 10, and was included in the 
draft programme of one of the subscription concerts of 
which my father had been such a generous supporter. At 
the last moment it was withdrawn, the explanation being 
given that Dr. Richter, the conductor, found it would be too 
difficult to produce, largely on account of financial reasons, 
the extra instruments required and the performers to play 
them being a costly business. It was rumoured, however, at 
the time that the real reason for Manchester and not his 
native town of Bradford being the scene for the first Eng- 
lish production of one of his most famous works was Dr. 
Richter's lack of sympathy with my brother's music. Since 
then Bradford has more than made up for what I may be 
forgiven for calling this lack of musical taste. 

188 






FREDERICK DELIUS 

Still through the unflagging zeal of Mr. Thomas 
Beecham my brother's compositions came to be features 
of the great provincial programmes. In March, 191 2, his 
Dance Rhapsody, which he had composed in 1908, was per- 
formed at Manchester, and in October of the same year his 
Sea Drift was given at Birmingham. In making the arrange- 
ments for the latter performance there was some difficulty 
in finding a baritone. As a result of Mr. Beecham's enter- 
prise, a ' trial of song ' was held at the Memorial Hall, 
Manchester, with Fred as the judge. There were numerous 
competitors, and my brother was able to select the singer 
he wanted. It was characteristic of Fred's aversion to the 
artful aids of publicity that he refused to divulge the name 
of the successful competitor, and declined firmly to say any- 
thing to the Press when the audition was over as to the 
opinions he had formed. 

I think it is perfectly clear from what has happened since, 
that the reason his fellow-citizens in Bradford had in those 
years but infrequent opportunities of listening to my 
brother's music, must be attributed more to a lack of taste 
on the part of the promoters than that of the audiences. I 
know that when I gave a performance of Fred's songs at 
the Church Institute, Bradford, and also at the Arts' Club, 
I was received with great enthusiasm, and the Press were 
very complimentary. My brother, however, did not approve 
of his songs being ' put across ' in this way. He considered 
— perhaps rightly — that the audience came to witness the 
rather novel sight of a famous composer's sister singing her 
brother's songs, rather than out of any real appreciation of 
those songs. As I have related elsewhere, he opposed crush- 
ingly my proposal to give a concert of his songs in London, 
on the ground that I was no more than a talented amateur, 

189 



FREDERICK DELIUS 

and not a professional, who could alone render his music 
properly. Though I sang his songs occasionally after 
this by special request at various charity performances, I 
was very careful to repress sternly the fact that I was his 
sister. 

One of the papers during the War — I think it was the 
Yorkshire Observer — openly stated why it was that Fred's 
work had been heard so rarely in his native town : 

It may appear extravagant to say [that critic wrote] that 
the concert frequenters of St. George's Hall [Bradford] had 
to wait for a great European war to get a hearing of the 
works of a composer born a short mile away. The proposi- 
tion can be established without undue sophism. During 
Richter's regime, Mr. Delius's compositions were not even 
tolerated. Then came Herr Ballin, who played one of the 
Bradfordian's works in his native town. But Ballin's sym- 
pathies were with the overshadowed saplings of his own 
Fatherland — the Bruckners, the Braunsfals, and that ilk — not 
a very dazzling company; and it was not until the outbreak 
of the war brought the Halle Orchestra under British con- 
ductors that the native school got much attention. Mr. 
Beecham's keenness of interest in new things made him alive 
to any fresh and distinctive utterance among his fellow- 
countrymen, and he may be said to have introduced Delius 
to us. Two of his works he included in the programme 
which he brought to Bradford with the Halle Orchestra last 
winter, and last night he played two others — a selection from 
A Village Romeo and Juliet, and the tone poem In a Summer 
Garden. 

The War came to Fred, as to most artists, as a profound 
shock. While appreciating the spirit of personal self-sacrifice 
that it engendered, he refused to regard it as otherwise than 
a form of madness which had swept over the civilised 
world, destroying everything that was beautiful. Having 

190 




FREDERICK DELIUS IN 191 I, AGED 49 



FREDERICK DELIUS 

lost my only son in the war, I cannot bring myself even 
now, after all these years, to believe that the cause for 
which he gallantly gave his life was nothing more than 
the illusion of a madhouse, but I am willing to admit that 
the personal issue may have obscured my judgment, and 
that Fred's estimate of our Armageddon was the more just. 
Of course in those stern, bitter times all the beautiful crea- 
tions of artists were at a discount, and to a man of my 
brother's temperament it must have seemed the end of 
everything that mattered. 

I have already described how in the first German rush 
in 19 1 4, when the thunder of the guns grew ominously near 
to his quiet retreat at Grez, he and his wife fled with their 
Gauguin picture. I will add a few details which my brother, 
with much humour, told me himself. 

The wine cellar at my brother's house at Grez was a ro- 
mantic spot, more like a dungeon than a storehouse for 
bottles. It was not connected in any way with the house, 
and to enter it one had to go out into the garden and 
descend several steps. At I do not know what distant date, 
it had been hollowed out of the solid rock on which the 
house was built. Under the cellar floor, visible through an 
aperture, was the spring, known as La Source. Where it 
actually rises nobody has been able to discover. Its waters 
possess a curious quality, in so much as its temperature 
never varies either in winter or summer. In Fred's menage 
it served the purpose of the ice chest, which is such a feature 
of all American homes, and is gradually coming into more 
universal use in this country. Fred insisted that everything 
he drank should stand in ' La Source ' for a certain time, 
and the same ritual was observed with all the fruit he ate, 
except peaches. From under the floor of the cellar the 

191 



FREDERICK DELIUS 

waters flowed out into the garden. Half-way to the river 
they had been fashioned into a pond, over which a rustic 
stone bridge had been constructed. From there the stream 
meanders, cool and refreshing on the hottest day, to the 
Loing. 

When the roar of the German guns was heard, and the 
streets of Grez began to be filled with refugees and the 
primitive transport on which they carried all their house- 
hold goods, the order came that the village was to be 
evacuated. 

As I have told, Fred hid his silver and most of his wine 
in a hastily dug pit. But there were other things he valued 
which were either forgotten until too late or did not, at any 
rate, find a corner in this hiding-place. These were trans- 
ferred to the ' cave \ 

The question then arose how to camouflage the entrance 
to the cave, for it was pretty obvious that as soon as the 
Germans arrived they would see the heavy door at the foot 
of the steps and break it open. With a return of that ro- 
mantic spirit which had made him in his boyhood such a 
reader of penny-dreadfuls and other adventurous literature, 
Fred flung himself into the congenial task of outwitting the 
enemy. With the assistance of his staff, he built up the 
whole doorway with large blocks of wood. In front of this, 
for the whole extent of the stairway, he piled branches of 
trees, which he cut down for the purpose. The effect when 
completed suggested a pile of wood for household con- 
sumption. 

But he had nothing to fear from the enemy. These pre- 
cautions were solely useful against the activities of ' friends \ 
The Germans never arrived at Grez, but until that great 
sweep upon Paris was beaten back, and for some time after, 

192 



FREDERICK DELIUS 

the house was in the occupation of French officers. With 
that indifference to personal property, whether one's own 
or other people's, which becomes characteristic of soldiers 
in wartime — seeing that you may be dead to-morrow, what 
do ' things ' matter? — the officers billeted in the house 
played havoc with its contents. As Fred said to me after- 
wards, no enemy could have treated the place worse. When 
he and his wife returned to their home they found it, 
not exactly swept and garnished, but almost, inside, in 
ruins. 

The sight of the desolation created in that beautiful re- 
treat where all his best work had been done, almost at the 
first broke Fred's heart. Eventually he claimed compensa- 
tion from the French government, getting as usual only a 
fraction of what he demanded, for in the matter of war com- 
pensations the Third Republic, as is well known, did not 
display the same lavish generosity as our own government. 
But nobody had discovered the entrance to the cave, which 
had been left completely intact. 

Neighbours were less fortunate. Some friends of Fred's, 
imitating his example, dug a pit in their garden, in which 
they hid their silver, camouflaging the spot with great care. 
Unfortunately they forgot to mark the place, and to this 
day I believe they have been unable to recover their plate. 
Their gardener, I am told, still goes about his duties with 
something of the zeal of a treasure-hunter, hoping that 
when he plants a bulb he may find a silver spoon. 

After his flight from Grez, Fred came to England with 
his wife. For a time Sir Thomas Beecham placed a house 
at Watford at his disposal. Later he moved to Pembridge 
Gardens, where I spent a long afternoon with him during 
one of my rare visits to London. The atmosphere at the 

n 193 



FREDERICK DELIUS 

time reeked with war. I, in common with millions of 
mothers, was trying to present to the world the approved 
picture of the Spartan mother who had dedicated her only 
son to a great cause. 

News from the front had been bad for some time, and I 
could see that Hugh, my son, was becoming very restive. 
I pointed out to him that he was much under age, just 
recovering from an over-strained heart due to his practice 
of athletics, and, if he waited, he would ultimately get his 
commission through the O.T.C. of his public school. Un- 
known to us he went to a recruiting office, saying he was 
eighteen, and after two or more attempts enlisted as a 
private. It was suggested that he should have a commission, 
but he refused, saying that he wanted to know something 
more about the job at first hand before he undertook respon- 
sibility for the lives of other people, and that if he got a 
commission he would earn it. 

He came home on sick-leave from Gatterick and was 
offered his discharge, which he refused. He was keen at the 
time to transfer to the Air Force. In the June of 191 8 he 
was drafted to France, from where he wrote some really 
wonderful letters. He was again on the sick-list with 
pleurisy, and was offered his discharge for the second time. 
Again he refused, saying that every man was wanted. On 
August 8th he was killed, storming the village of Morlin- 
court. It was, I hope and believe, his first day in the 
trenches. Shortly afterwards, as we all know, the Armistice 
was signed. 

I was in the middle of this tragic game of patience, tor- 
tured like every woman with a serving son was at the time, 
looking upon all telegraph boys and postmen as the fore- 
runners of doom, and hardly daring to glance at those 

194 



FREDERICK DELIUS 

long, long casualty lists that filled the papers in those days, 
when I spent those hours with Fred. 

My brother's attitude towards the war was given with 
great precision in the " Explanation " included in the pro- 
gramme of his famous Requiem, which was completed on 
October 27th, 1920, and was performed at a Royal Philhar- 
monic Society concert at the Queen's Hall with Mr. Alfred 
Coates as conductor. It was divided into three parts, headed 
respectively " Solemnly ", " a la grande amoureuse ", and 
" With Energy ", and it was dedicated to " all young artists 
who sacrificed their lives during the war ". 

It is not a religious work [my brother wrote] . Its under- 
lying belief is that of a pantheism that insists on the reality 
of life. It preaches that human life is like a day in the exis- 
tence of the world, subject to the great laws of All-Being. 
The weakling is weighed down thereby and revels in magic 
pictures of a cheerful existence hereafter. The storm of 
reality destroys the golden dream-palaces, and the inexor- 
able cry resounds, "You are the creature of the day and 
must perish ". The world tries to soothe the fear of death; 
" the highways of the world give birth to gods and idols ". 
The proud spirit casts off the yoke of superstition, for it 
knows that death puts an end to all life, and therefore fulfil- 
ment can be sought and found only in life itself. No judg- 
ment as to doing and not doing good and evil can be found 
in any ordinance from without, but only in the conscience 
of man himself. Often a man is judged worthless to the 
world and its laws, who should be exalted by praise for his 
human goodness, and the love of which he freely gives. 
Thus independence and self-reliance are the marks of a man 
who is great and free. He will look forward to his death 
with high courage in his soul, in proud solitude, in harmony 
with nature and the ever-recurrent, sonorous rhythm of birth 
and death. 

195 



FREDERICK DELIUS 



One of the most beautiful passages in the music is the 
setting to the words : " Therefore eat thy bread in gladness, 
and lift up thy heart and rejoice in thy wine, and take to 
thyself a woman whom thou lovest, and enjoy life ". In 
the first part, where the spiritual-minded are referred to as 
weaklings who have drugged themselves with " dreams and 
golden visions " of a Hereafter, there is worked up a tre- 
mendous crescendo, illustrating as with derisive violence the 
storm which will sweep them away. In the section " a la 
grande amoureuse " my brother would have nothing to do 
with womanly devotion; he demands — so I gather — that she 
shall simply render honour to the man who can love life, 
yet without fear can die. 

I make no comment on this philosophy, except that it 
cannot be regarded as a solace to an ordinary woman like 
myself, with a son in the trenches. In our talk in Pern- 
bridge Gardens I quickly abandoned the subject of the War. 
Fred seemed to me to be in a fever of thwarted creative 
longing. He wanted to " carry on " with his work as he had 
always carried on with it, and the war figured to him as 
an outrageous interruption. I suppose it is essential for an 
artist to be completely egocentric in this way, otherwise 
it would be impossible for him to produce his best. Most 
of the greatest seem to have had one-track minds. 

A little chilled by his philosophic detachment, I listened 
to his description of his flight from Grez, which he told 
with great humour, and then, as always happened when we 
were together, I found myself engaged in a discussion of 
Yorkshire and the moors and the staunch spirit of the West 
Riding. Out of that conversation emerged a curious fact 
which I do not remember having been recorded before. It 
should be of interest to his many admirers in the Dales, 

196 



FREDERICK DELIUS 

and it is a proof that in spite of his long exile he still looked 
upon Yorkshire as his home. 

In our talk his thoughts naturally went back to the happy 
days he had spent with me at Stone Gappe, where Char- 
lotte Bronte had once been a governess and which she made 
the scene of her opening chapters in Jane Eyre. He had 
been caught then with a fervour for the Bronte literature. 
I had persuaded him, indeed, to read Wuthering Heights 
for the first time. The passionate emotion of that master- 
piece had gripped his imagination. He told me that he had 
read the book again and again since then, and he allowed 
me to share the secret of an artistic ambition. He was 
thinking of subjecting Wuthering Heights to musical treat- 
ment, and he explained with ever-growing enthusiasm how 
he intended to create a series of harmonic pictures which 
would worthily reproduce in another medium the emotional 
quality of the original. I wish now I had carried away in 
my memory more details of what he said to me. But, alas ! 
my mind was really elsewhere. August 8th, 191 8, was draw- 
ing very near — that dreadful date which was to fill so many 
homes, including my own, with sorrow and a kind of 
strange, twisted pride. As far as I know, Fred never carried 
out his intentions with regard to Wuthering Heights, and 
a similar scheme for dealing with Dierdre of the Sorrows 
also went ultimately by the board. Both were projects which 
were never realised. 

In 1919 my brother gave one of his very rare interviews 
to the Press. I do not suppose he made contacts with the 
Fourth Estate more than half a dozen times in his life. The 
results of such contacts were mostly trivial; Fred, indeed, 
seemed to delight in pulling the legs of the journalists — 
which is not the ideal way of getting publicity. But this 

197 



FREDERICK DELIUS 

interview was different. It was secured by Mr. G. M. 
Stevenson-Reece for the Evening News. How it was ob- 
tained I have not the slightest idea. Fred must have been 
in a more than ordinarily garrulous mood. At any rate at 
a reception at a certain famous house he talked freely to 
his interviewer on the future of British music. As it hap- 
pens to have been the only public announcement on such 
a subject made by Fred I will give it in full. 

'Take what is happening at Covent Garden just now/ 
he went on, lightly joining the tips of his long, sensitive 
fingers, and looking far more like an ascetic old Italian 
priest than a son of Bradford, where he was born some 
fifty years ago. ' Sir Thomas Beecham is giving you opera 
under better artistic conditions than one gets in Paris — 
and what is the result? The public flocks to the old 
favourites, clamours for Boheme and Butterfly, packs the 
house for Parsifal and Tristan, but will hardly cross the road 
to see anything a hair's-breadth off the beaten track. Verdi's 
Falstaff, which is a pure stream of melody and merriment, 
can hardly be described as startlingly new, yet the London 
public fights shy of it, simply because it is unused to seeing 
the title on the bills. 

" State-aided opera, within limits, can afford that sort of 
thing. It can bide its time, while the musical ' failures ' of 
to-day mature into the classics and ultimately the common- 
places of to-morrow. Private enterprise cannot. The cost 
of producing opera is too gigantic for that. Does the public 
realise, for instance, that every extra rehearsal costs a matter 
of £100? 

" Private enterprise in opera means an eternity of musical 
Chu Chin Chow — an admirable entertainment in its way, 
but hardly to be described as all-sufficing intellectual 

198 



FREDERICK DELIUS 

nourishment. 'Intellect' I know is a dangerous term to 
use in this connection, for the British public has a wise 
distrust of the snobbery of brains, but there is no getting 
away from the fact that present-day conditions are forcing 
home the conviction to the dullest, that we cannot afford 
to neglect any educational factor which will widen and 
enrich the national intelligence, as good music finely inter- 
preted unquestionably does. 

" Surely London can afford to do what even the small 
towns in Germany and Italy can manage? None of these 
is without its official opera house, yet here we have the 
largest and richest city in the world possessing neither 
national opera nor national theatre. 

" No, I don't agree that subsidised opera is necessarily 
conducive to stagnation. Prince Serge Volkhonski's direc- 
torate at Petrograd was a conspicuous example to the con- 
trary. Seebach at Dresden is another. Stagnation is a term 
I certainly could not associate with Sir Thomas Beecham 
in any circumstances. He is the man, ready to hand, who 
can give you perfect opera — the country has only to make 
use of him. 

" The future of opera generally as an art-form? Length 
and cumbrousness, in my opinion, will be the first features 
to disappear, and that is the end towards which I am work- 
ing — brevity and conciseness. Long dialogues and weari- 
some narrations must go, and will be replaced by short, 
strong emotional impressions given in a series of terse 
scenes. Ninety minutes to two hours is long enough for 
any opera, and by reducing intervals, as I have done in my 
own work, to three minutes instead of the usual half-hour 
necessitated by ponderous realistic decoration, this limit can 
easily be preserved. 

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FREDERICK DELIUS 



" Every word must be clearly heard, and the construc- 
tion of the work itself should obviate any need of explana- 
tion. Suggestion will replace masses of detail in opera, as 
in modern painting. 

" By these methods I believe it will be possible for opera 
to become the supreme vehicle for the expression of the 
finest and subtlest psychological ideas, and we shall achieve 
' opera without tears ' — other than those, that is to say, of 
pleasant emotion and genuine thankfulness. 

" But remember, the keystone of the arch is subsidy.' ' 

On this subject of interviews I may as well make a con- 
fession. When the King made Fred a Companion of 
Honour I was visited by a Bradford journalist who asked 
me to say what I thought. I refused to say anything, for 
reasons which I will explain, though this did not prevent 
an alleged interview with me appearing in due course in 
the Press. I had already been caught once, and I was de- 
termined, quite uselessly as it turned out, not to be placed 
in the same position again. 

Some time previously a newspaper man had called to see 
me and induced me to talk about Fred. When his account 
appeared it was a most extraordinary mixture of inaccura- 
cies. I was made to have said things I could not possibly 
have said. For example, I was reported as having referred 
to his Village Romeo and Juliet as his " new opera ", though 
this had been composed nearly thirty years before, at the 
time, and had been produced by Beecham at Covent Garden 
some twenty years previously. Fred was quite familiar with 
the fact that I knew all about the history of his opera, for 
when I was staying with him in Elberfeld in 1905 he was 
still working on the score, polishing and making altera- 
tions. He had shown it to me and it had been a subject of 



200 



FREDERICK DELIUS 

daily discussion between us. He must have known, there- 
fore, that I could not have committed such a blague as 
referring to a work as new, the score of which I had been 
privileged to study some quarter of a century previously. 
But when the wretched interview came under his notice 
he went up in smoke. He accepted as facts all those absurd 
statements which were said to have fallen from my lips. 
Nothing I could say would convince him that I was inno- 
cent. I was making him ridiculous. I knew that he was 
very ill at the time, but while I made allowance for this, 
there comes a moment when an ' affair ' of this kind be- 
tween a brother and sister, who in the nature of things 
have inherited a certain strain of temperament from their 
common parents, results in tolerance and reasonableness 
being thrown overboard. At any rate, in the sequel Fred 
never forgave me for a thing I had never done. 

After that incident I was never to see him again, though 
my youngest daughter, Margaret, continued to visit him 
at Grez, staying there shortly before he died. In 1920, when 
I was taking her to her first boarding-school, Fred met me 
by appointment at Stewart's tea-rooms in Piccadilly. It was 
just about this time that he had composed the incidental 
music to James Elroy Flecker's play, Hassan; or, The Golden 
Journey to Samarqand, which ran so successfully in London. 
Watching how charming he was to my daughter, I could 
not help recalling the boy and young man who had filled 
my own childhood with so many golden memories. Though 
he was now nearing sixty he had lost none of his desire to 
please where the young were concerned. With an enthu- 
siasm which, coming from one who was then almost at the 
height of his fame, was very flattering to a girl, he pressed 
her to come and stay with him at Grez. Seven years were 

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FREDERICK DELIUS 

to intervene before she could accept this invitation. She 
also spent his last Christmas with him, decorating the lovely 
old hall and winding staircase for the occasion. Although 
he could not see what she had done, he insisted on it being 
described to him and displayed an almost boyish pleasure 
in her handiwork. 

I myself was at Grez twice during the post- War period. 
The first time was in 1924. I noticed then a very great 
change in my brother. The dread malady, which was to 
rob him of so many of his physical powers while leaving 
his mind perfectly clear, was already creeping upon him 
like a shadow. Though he had still perfect use of his limbs, 
and his eyesight seemed unaffected, there was a curious 
change in him which filled me with alarm. He who had 
always been so energetic now displayed a listlessness and 
inertia. I do not mean that this was shown in his talk or 
in his artistic pursuits. It was purely physical. He was still 
composing, and I like to remember how he used to accom- 
pany me when I sang. His two great favourites were Annie 
Laurie and Grieg's Ich Liebe Dich. Of this latter song, 
which of course I had sung hundreds of times, he gave me 
an entirely new conception, insisting on my singing it 
" exactly as Grieg meant it to be sung, and as Madame 
Grieg sang it herself ". When he accompanied me in Annie 
Laurie the exquisite harmonies he produced on the instru- 
ment almost made me forget that I was supposed to be 
singing. I am proud to remember that, though I have done 
so little with my voice from a financial point of view, I 
have had the chance of singing to the accompaniment of 
Frederick Delius. One curiosity of those musical experi- 
ences of mine at Grez was the amazement I felt at the 
way in which his wife was able to take down his music 



202 



FREDERICK DELIUS 

from dictation. This, I gather, was a service, that never 
ought to be forgotten, which was rendered to him later on 
by Eric Fenby. 

Fred and I had many talks together during that visit. 
Though he had lived abroad so long — except during the 
War he had hardly been in England more than a few months 
since 1882 — he constantly expressed his affection for Eng- 
land and English ways. He said he would have liked to 
have had a house on entirely English lines. In pursuance 
of this ambition he asked me to get him an English man- 
servant. On my return I carried out his request, but un- 
fortunately the arrangement did not turn out successfully. 

My next visit to Fred was two years later. I shall never 
forget the shock I felt when I saw him. He was at Oeyn- 
hausen at the time, undergoing the cure for what was still 
pathetically regarded as his temporary lameness. After a 
very eventful journey in which I lost all my luggage, I 
arrived at Oeynhausen and went immediately to the hotel 
where he was staying with his wife and servant. He was 
out on my arrival, and I was standing at the window look- 
ing abstractedly at the view when I saw a bath-chair, in 
which a man who was an entire stranger to me was seated, 
approaching the hotel. Jelka was in the hotel with me. To 
my horror she exclaimed, pointing to that figure in the 
bath-chair, " Here's Fred." 

He was completely changed from the man I had seen 
two years before. In that intervening period he had be- 
come very like James Gunn's picture of him in the 
Academy. Masking my consternation as well as I could, 
I bent over him and kissed him, and he responded warmly. 
Except for the dreadful paralysis he appeared the same as 
ever. If one shut one's eyes and listened only to his voice 

203 



FREDERICK DELIUS 

it was hard to believe that there was anything the matter 
with him. His mind was just as alert, his interest and sym- 
pathies just as strong, and he showed all the old satisfac- 
tion in making himself as charming to me as only Fred 
could be when he wanted. 

I spent those memorable days walking beside his chair, 
sometimes pushing it myself. His favourite haunt was the 
band in the Kurgarten. After one of the performances 
which he had especially enjoyed, he would send me to the 
Kappelmeister and ask him to come to him, when my 
brother would say a few encouraging words to him, which 
were needless to say much appreciated, for Fred was very 
well known in Germany. 

One dreadful feature of the disease which affected him 
was the coldness in his feet and hands. To try and relieve 
this I used to massage him for hours together. Finally he 
found he could hardly walk at all, and began to complain 
of a numbness in his hands. As the cure did not seem to 
be doing him much good, he decided to move on to Wil- 
helmshohe. It was a very difficult business making the 
journey with Fred in his deplorable state, but we even- 
tually arrived at Cassell, where we had a drive of several 
miles through a beautiful pine forest. It had been arranged 
that Fred should have special electric treatment here, and 
in order to get from Wilhelmshohe to Cassell we had to 
push him in his bath-chair through the woods to the elec- 
tric tram which he found more comfortable than a car. 
Going was easy enough, for it was all downhill, but coming 
back was a very different proposition, as the phrase is. 
His wife and I and the nurse took it in turns at pushing, 
and we were all three fairly exhausted by the time we 
reached our destination. Fred, I remember, used to try and 

204 



FREDERICK DELIUS 

sweeten our labours with jokes and cheerful conversation, 
but I think he felt his situation very strongly. 

By dint of massaging his hands we got a little use back 
into them, and at last he even tried to play the piano. I 
suppose, strictly speaking, the situation of Beethoven, un- 
able to hear a sound of his music, was far more deplorable 
than Fred's, but it struck me as pathetically tragic to see 
those long, slender fingers which ever since I could remem- 
ber had produced such wonderful harmonies on the piano, 
fumbling uncertainly with the keys. Meanwhile the electric 
treatment which he was being given at Cassell appeared at 
first to be doing him a great deal of good, and we all took 
heart, telling ourselves that he would be soon restored to 
full health. But alas! after some days the treatment which 
had been beneficial began to have an exactly opposite effect, 
and had to be hurriedly discontinued. In spite of all we 
could do for him, and the never-ceasing devotion of his 
wife, whom I shall always regard as the most perfect help- 
mate Fred could have had, he grew worse and worse. As 
there was no longer any point in staying in Wilhelmshohe 
— though Fred loved the gardens of the " Schloss " where 
Napoleon III was kept a prisoner after his surrender at 
Sedan — it was decided to return to Grez. We made the 
journey to Paris in comparative comfort, but from there on 
in the car which Fred's chauffeur had brought to Paris, our 
troubles began. They would have been exasperating enough 
had my brother been in perfect health, but suffering as he 
was they almost drove me demented. 

During Fred's absence the car had not been receiving 
the attention it required. The journey usually takes about 
an hour and a half. We were more than double that time 
on the road. We had hardly left the outskirts of Paris when 

205 



FREDERICK DELIUS 

one tyre burst. We had then to take poor Fred out of the 
car and half guide, half carry him to the camp stool which 
we had brought with us in case, while he was steering his 
almost useless limbs from one spot to another, he wished to 
rest. When the chauffeur had jacked up the car and sub- 
stituted the spare wheel, we started off again. A few miles 
further on a second tyre burst, and the whole performance 
had to be repeated, only this time it meant the more 
laborious one of mending the inner tube. As far as my 
recollection serves the remaining two tyres went before we 
had completed the course to Grez. The experience left Fred 
very tired and exhausted. I feared, indeed, that that disas- 
trous trip might have affected him seriously, and I was 
astonished, therefore, when he was brought down at noon 
the following day to hear him greet me in the broad York- 
shire he sometimes affected, " Well, lass, here we are." 

A few days later we were all startled by another tragic 
symptom, although I at the time did not realise all that it 
meant. I suppose his wife must have been prepared by his 
medical advisers for some such possible development of his 
dreadful malady, but for me it was a complete shock. Fred 
complained of a faint mistiness before his eyes, which made 
it difficult for him to see clearly objects even close at hand. 
That was the first time we knew that he was fated to go 
blind. 

Every morning at Grez, while his wife was busy with 
household duties, I used to walk out by the side of his bath 
chair. Nearly always his talk was of England, and the 
friends he had known in Bradford and remembered so well. 
Again and again he expressed a longing to see and smell 
the moors once more, adding sorrowfully that he did not 
think he ever would. Not that he ever complained. There 

206 



FREDERICK DELIUS 

was nothing of the exhibitionist about Fred. I am certain 
that he would have objected strongly to the famous picture 
in the Royal Academy, showing him in all his physical 
decay, and I am equally certain that nothing but a high 
sense of duty, and a sense of the obligation he owed to 
Sir Thomas Beecham induced him to make a public ap- 
pearance at the Queen's Hall concert. He was one of the 
bravest men I ever knew, and now at the time of which 
I am writing he hid his homesickness for the Yorkshire 
moors under a mask of rather cynical cheerfulness. Know- 
ing how his thoughts went back to the West Riding where 
he had spent his childhood, I am still astonished by the 
statement that he expressed a wish to be buried in the 
South, with which he had few ties, and of which he knew 
little. 

A cousin of mine, who went round the world in a wind- 
jammer in 1933, ran across Mr. Percy Grainger, who 
travelled in the same ship to Australia, where he was going 
to give a concert tour. My cousin wrote and told me all of 
Mr. Grainger's talk about Fred, who was one of his most 
intimate friends. He said it was a mistake to imagine that 
Fred was unhappy. " You need never feel the least bit 
sorry for him," he remarked. " He is so full of fun and 
possesses such a happy nature that sympathy on him would 
be really wasted. He is always joking with the people 
around him." 

Mr. Grainger also told my cousin a story which illustrates 
the vagaries of Fred's mind, to which I have referred 
before. He was inclined to take up a point of view, some- 
times out of a spirit of contradiction, sometimes because 
in that particular mood he really believed what he was say- 
ing, in spite of the fact that the views he expressed con- 

207 



FREDERICK DELIUS 

tradicted what he had supported only a few weeks before. 
Knowing that Percy Grainger was coming to stay with him, 
Fred asked him to bring all his Bach with him, as there was 
no other composer's works whom he loved so dearly. 
Grainger duly arrived, fortified with the works of Bach. 
When he proposed to play them to Fred, my brother turned 
on him, exclaiming, " No, don't play Bach. You know I 
don't like him at all." As a corollary to this anecdote, I re- 
member him giving me a great lecture, declaring that I had 
no musical appreciation when I stated rashly that I did not 
like Bach ! 






208 



CHAPTER XI 

Well : men are led by toys. I would not say that 
in a rostrum, but in a council of wise men and 
statesmen one ought to speak one's mind." 
I do not quote Napoleon as the seer and philosopher — 
that legend, I think, has been exploded — but he certainly 
had some insight into the meaner motives by which men 
are influenced, and I set down his famous comment when 
objections were raised against his founding of the Legion 
of Honour, because I think it may cast some light upon 
that strange medley of contradictions which went to the 
make-up of my brother's character. 

My readers will perhaps remember that when Napoleon 
brought forward his plans for the founding of the Legion of 
Honour, Berlier, one of the leading jurists of France, 
objected to the new order as leading France back to aris- 
tocracy, and contemptuously said that crosses and ribbons 
were the toys of monarchy. That this is a view not peculiar 
to avowed Republicans, but is shared by loyal subjects of a 
monarchical system, is proved by the attitude taken up by 
several of the Dominions who will not allow the fount of 
honour to play upon their citizens. Undoubtedly honours 
of distinction have been cheapened and made ridiculous 
during the last half-century, and I can still remember the 
delighted laughter in Ireland when some wit referred to 
Dublin as " the city of dreadful knights ". During the 
War and afterwards most people with an O.B.E. were 
referred to by the soldiers — the real soldiers — as having 

o 209 



FREDERICK DELIUS 

initials after their name which really meant " Often Been 
Exempted ". 

Fred, as a devotee of Nietzsche, prided himself before 
all things on being a realist. He hated shams; he looked 
always for the sentimental motive in any man's action, and 
if he found that weakness, he refused to regard what the 
man had done as of any value. It is true I have never heard 
him discuss the subject of honours, but the whole trend 
of his talk and his general attitude towards life made me 
convinced that his view was identical with Napoleon's. How 
came it then, that he accepted one of these toys? 

The motives by which men are influenced are usually 
mixed. Henry Irving always claimed that in accepting a 
knighthood he did so not for himself but for his profession, 
and to a great extent I am sure this was true. Through his 
action the art of the actor was raised to a position of greater 
importance, in a community where it was still looked upon 
almost as ignoble and certainly as declasse. In allowing 
himself to be made a Companion of Honour, Fred thought 
most of the effect the distinction would have upon the art 
he practised. Elgar had been made a knight, and un- 
doubtedly the propagation of musical taste among the 
public did not suffer, but benefited. That this should be so 
may be deplorable, seeing that the appreciation of the beau- 
tiful among any civilised community should require no such 
artful aids, but it is none the less a fact. Honour was done 
to the art of music by the honour done to a great composer. 
That was how Fred also regarded the distinction conferred 
upon him — but not entirely, I think. 

The honour was conferred upon him in the New Year of 
1929, and, owing to various causes, I did not see him again. 
He never, therefore, spoke to me personally on the matter. 

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FREDERICK DELIUS 

I had to rely upon the Press reports which were published at 
the time, knowing quite well as I do that while on questions 
of facts our newspapers are miraculously reliable, on such 
abstract matters as the psychological reactions of somebody 
to something they are influenced largely by what they think 
their public will like to read. It was all in the picture that 
Fred, blind and paralysed, neglected for many years, should 
be overjoyed with the news that he had been remembered 
by the head of the State — that his art had been recognised 
by His Majesty the King with perhaps one of the most 
honourable distinctions at his disposal. But I cannot believe 
that the description from " a special correspondent ", which 
I will quote at length, can have been entirely imaginary : 

" This has made me the happiest man in the world. It is 
wonderful." 

A blind, bed-ridden old man, propped up by pillows, 
stretched out a pale, wan hand from beneath a snow-white 
quilt, and, touching me lightly, uttered these words in a 
gentle voice, broken by fits of coughing. 

He was Frederick Delius, the composer, blind, but still the 
pride of musical Britain, and I had come to tell him that 
His Majesty the King had conferred on him the dignity of 
Companion of Honour. 

Mrs. Delius, only a few years younger than the composer, 
got up from her chair, came to the head of the bed, leaned 
over, and kissed her husband tenderly, murmuring, " I am 
so glad, dear." 

Frederick Delius lives in a rambling old house in this tiny 
village of a few hundred simple French souls on the borders 
of Fontainebleau Forest, fifty miles from Paris. 

In this bitter wintry weather Grez-sur-Loing is a desolate 
spot, but there is joy to-night among the inhabitants at the 
honour bestowed on the great composer, and there is a merry 
party in the Inn of the Pool of Water. For the inhabitants 

2TI 



FREDERICK DELIUS 

are proud of the distinguished musician who has come to 
live among them. 

Frederick Delius has been bedridden for the past four 
months, cared for tenderly by his wife, and visited frequently 
by his friend, who lives near by, Mr. Alden Brooks, the author 
and war correspondent. 

" It is good to know that they still remember me in Eng- 
land," he said. " I was quite resigned to ending my life here 
in a gentle oblivion. It is too wonderful — wonderful. Is it 
possible? Nothing has ever touched me so much. 

" Ah, but it is a long time since I have written anything. 
Yet it is beautiful to know that they still love my music. 
When I heard over the wireless Sir Thomas Beecham con- 
ducting a concert of my works a fortnight ago, the music 
seemed to me to be the work of another man. The strains 
were vaguely familiar, as if they were voices that one remem- 
bers but cannot quite identify." 

And his emotion mastered him as he took his wife's hand 
and murmured, " Thank them, thank them. It is wonderful." 

I have every reason to believe that Fred was genuinely 
delighted — that in spite of his philosophic detachment, 
which ought to have made him indifferent to such toys, he 
was really thrilled. Two years previously Sir Thomas 
Beecham had publicly declared that my brother ought to 
have the Order of Merit conferred upon him. That state- 
ment was quoted in the Press up and down the land. Seeing 
the intimacy that existed between Sir Thomas Beecham and 
my brother, it must, in the nature of things, have come to 
Fred's notice. Had he had any objection to the honour, he 
would undoubtedly have stated it then. As he did not, I 
am convinced that the special correspondent, whom I have 
quoted, gave a very fair picture of Fred's reception of the 
news. 

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FREDERICK DELIUS 

I think also there may have been a psychological explana- 
tion of the intense satisfaction of one whose philosophy of 
life, it might have been expected, would have made him 
indifferent to such a distinction as the inclusion of his name 
in the Royal Honours. In his youth and adolescence my 
father had always dinned into his ears that the career of a 
composer, besides not being a profession for a gentleman, 
led nowhere. He had kicked against that monstrous doc- 
trine. He had fought, struggled, kept his faith in his artistic 
gifts undimmed, and finally had succeeded in emancipating 
himself from the life to which my father would have con- 
demned him. In 1899 he had given his first concert in 
London largely to show his parents that he could do some- 
thing — that, on a mere accountancy basis, there was some 
return for all the money that had been spent. 

The fact that neither his father nor his mother ever took 
the slightest notice of his artistic achievements — never even 
referred to them in their conversation, never indeed, went 
to hear a performance of a single one of his works — served 
to keep alive that youthful bitterness. Of course it was 
subconscious — Fred was too big a man to harbour any sense 
of petty grievance, or to remember wrongs for ever and 
ever — but the recollection of the struggle he had had to 
emancipate himself from the dictation of his father was, 
I am convinced, still tucked away in his mind. The con- 
ferring of the Companionship of Honour, therefore — it was 
just the sort of distinction with which my father would have 
been delighted — was like a justification of the attitude he 
had taken up in the domestic struggle. My mother was 
still alive, living then in the New Forest, but from no mem- 
ber of the family can I discover that she made any com- 
ment on the honour conferred upon Fred. 

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FREDERICK DELIUS 

The Order of the Companion of Honour was founded 
by King George V in 191 7. Like the Order of Merit 
founded by his father, King Edward VII, it is designed, 
while conferring no title of precedence, as a special dis- 
tinction for eminent men and women. Unlike the Order of 
Merit, however, it is not limited to any specific number of 
members, though awards made under it are carefully re- 
stricted. Excluding the addition of foreign honorary mem- 
bers, there can be only twenty-four members of the Order 
of Merit. The fact that this number had been completed at 
the time is probably the reason why Fred was made a 
Companion of Honour instead of receiving the O.M., which 
had been conferred upon Elgar. 

The inclusion of Fred's name in the Honours created 
considerable stir in the Press, and undoubtedly it had the 
effect of arousing a world-wide interest in his works. That 
this was so is evidenced by the following letter, which ap- 
peared in the Sydney Morning Herald. Apparently in 
Australia titles of honour are associated always with knight- 
hood, for the letter was headed " Sir Frederick Delius ". 

Sir, — The mention in your paper of the performance by 
the Conservatorium Orchestra of several previously unheard 
of compositions, urges me to launch a request for a more 
frequent presentation of the outstanding works of the 
modern English school. In this connection I refer more par- 
ticularly to the creations of Sir Frederick Delius. I cannot 
recollect a single performance of any work of his in Sydney, 
although it is well nigh thirty years since he created the 
works by which he is best known. There can be no tone 
greatness without repose, and in this respect Delius is unique, 
probably because his inspiration is always nature. The fresh- 
ness of Delius's work is astonishing. I have played his Walk 
to the Paradise Gardens on the gramophone, at least every 

214 



FREDERICK DELIUS 

day for the past nine months, and it never loses its impelling 
charm. To how many modern composers could this test be 
applied with the same result? 

I venture to suggest that a performance of say his Brigg 
Fair or First Cuckoo by the Conservatorium Orchestra, 
followed later by his Sea Drift or A Mass of Life would meet 
with instant approval by all lovers of great and beautiful 
music. Delius has recently been honoured with a knighthood, 
but adequate homage can only be paid to his outstanding 
greatness by the continual rendering of his music, much of 
which will be played and loved when most of what is now 
being written is not only forgotten, but unprocurable. 

The conferring of the Honour formed the preface to what 
I am right, I think, in describing as one of the most re- 
markable incidents in the life of any composer. As far as 
art is concerned, we as a nation have a knack of apothe- 
cising the dead artist rather than the living one. My brother 
was the sole example that I can recollect of a composer upon 
whose brow the public placed the wreath of laurels instead 
of upon his tomb. In October 1929, the six-day concert at 
Queen's Hall, devoted entirely to his works, to which 
thousands of his admirers thronged to listen, was something 
quite unique in the history of English music. 

It was really a dual triumph — not only an acknowledge- 
ment of my brother's place in the hierarchy of composers, 
but an immense personal tribute to Sir Thomas Beecham, 
who organised and conducted that six-day concert and for 
twenty years, in foul weather and in fair, had never ceased 
his tireless efforts to teach the public to appreciate Fred's 
music. Everybody knows that where his art is concerned Sir 
Thomas is indifferent to the question of money. He has 
given vast sums of his own private fortune to propagate a 
taste for good music in this country. I have no means of 

215 



FREDERICK DELIUS 

knowing, of course, what his crusade on behalf of Fred 
must have cost him, and perhaps it would not be comme il 
faut to inquire into the sordid question of pounds, shillings 
and pence. But of this I am certain, judging by the hesita- 
tion of local orchestras to stage his work, even in his native 
city of Bradford, that in the early days they were not con- 
sidered a commercial proposition. In London in October 
1929 Sir Thomas had the satisfaction denied to so many 
people, of seeing an almost lifetime task completed. 

That astonishing Delius Festival, which will linger long 
in the memory of the public, was prefaced by tributes 
throughout the Press. I select for inclusion in these 
memories the one from the Yorkshire Post, because the 
writer paid particular attention to the selfless and magnani- 
mous part Sir Thomas Beecham played in Fred's musical 
life: 

The Delius Festival, which begins this afternoon at the 
Queen's Hall, comes as a timely tribute to a great musician 
and a great Yorkshireman. Like many other artists who may 
in the true sense be called creative, Mr. Frederick Delius has 
needed to wait long for anything like general recognition. In 
his case the world has been more than unusually tardy to 
award him the bays. A quarter of a century ago a few dis- 
cerning minds realised that he was making contributions to 
music stamped with the mark of genius. They heard in him 
that individual voice which is the sign of the master, and 
though we as a nation cannot claim to have been forward 
in affording him that sympathy and encouragement which is 
precious to the artist, we can feel satisfaction that his most 
energetic champion has been an Englishman. Delius's 
music has the stuff of life in it. It was not born to die. But 
we owe it to Sir Thomas Beecham, more than to any other 
single man, that it has come into its own during its com- 
poser's lifetime. There is, for that reason, a peculiar fitness 

216 



FREDERICK DELIUS 

that he has been able to crown a long struggle to make Delius 
known to his countrymen by the present Festival, which 
will give us a general survey of his achievement, and though 
there is pathos in the accounts we have read of the composer, 
stricken before his three score and ten, travelling to Eng- 
land from his French home in an ambulance, we can be sure 
that Delius is glad to be present in London to-day, as we are 
glad and proud to welcome him. 

In that pride Yorkshire may legitimately share. For 
Delius, if he was the son of a naturalised father, was himself 
born and bred in Bradford, and, though the roving spirit of 
his family led him early away, it is not fanciful to trace in 
the determination which led him to follow the promptings of 
his own mind in the face of every obstacle and to live an 
austere life in pursuit of the ideal he had made for himself 
something of the doggedness that is popularly ascribed to 
those brought up within the scent of our moors. Yet there is 
nothing provincial or even specifically English in the art of 
Delius. It is the glory of music to speak a language com- 
mon to all Europeans. But environment will tell, and one 
can trace throughout the history of music in our own 
country a peculiar simplicity, a directness which has persisted 
through the various schools from Byrd through Purcell to 
our own day. Sir Edward Elgar is a child of the common 
European tradition, yet he sings in unmistakably English 
accents, and Dr. Vaughan Williams, also a good European, 
wears the mantle like a true Englishman. Frederick Delius, 
though he has not remained uninfluenced by the native strain 
in him — witness Brigg Fair — stands a figure apart. His great- 
ness must necessarily elude the brief summary of a para- 
graph. Those who are acquainted with even the fringe of 
his work know how widely he differs from any of his con- 
temporaries here or abroad. His music, profoundly original 
and, therefore, essentially modern, shows none of the contra- 
puntal influences that give a general resemblance to other- 
wise divergent schools. The charge of ugliness which, as a 

217 



FREDERICK DELIUS 

result, is often brought against the music of our time, could 
never include Delius. Others may shock our ears into com- 
prehension of the spiritual truths that music alone can 
convey. Delius, more favoured of the gods, can make us hear 
his message as he spins lovely threads of melody and weaves 
them on shimmering harmonies that shift and change like 
the lights of an April day. The composer of that perfect 
idyll, On Hearing the First Cuckoo in Spring, has taken us 
with him into a new land of mystery and wonder. It is this 
ethereal — Chopinesque, one might call it — quality in his 
music, its remoteness and its quietness, that sets Frederick 
Delius apart. He may never enjoy an easy popularity. But 
our children on listening to him will realise that there was 
another facet to an age which too often ran after brutal and 
blatant deities. 

The Delius Festival was fixed to begin on Saturday, 
October 12th, and to end on Friday November 1st. Blind 
and helpless though he was, Fred was determined to be 
present. As a physical gesture that determination was one 
of the most courageous acts in the history of man's triumph 
over his environment. That his wife should have consented 
is another testimonial to her loyalty and courage. It was on 
her that the burden, of course, fell. The distance to be 
travelled was four hundred miles, and included a long car 
journey and a sea crossing. My brother, remember, was un- 
able at this time to do anything for himself and was stone 
blind. There was no knowing how the exertion of travelling 
and the inevitable excitement might affect his health. As 
the whole history of the beautiful relations between Fred 
and his wife show he was, in her eyes, everything in the 
world that mattered. Torn with anxiety as she must have 
been, physically wearied as she was by the care and atten- 
tion he required, she never gave herself a thought. 

218 



FREDERICK DELIUS 

It was imperative that he should be in London for the 
Festival of his works. To accord him that laudable satisfac- 
tion was in her view worthy of any and every sacrifice. As 
I knew my sister-in-law to be as devoid of personal vanity 
as any human being can be, I am aware that the prospect 
of figuring at that triumph in the place of honour by 
his side had for her no attractions. She would much sooner 
have stayed in her peaceful home at Grez. But Fred was 
set on the journey, naturally anxious as he would be 
to give Sir Thomas Beecham, who had done so much for 
him, as much assistance as possible, and so she never hesi- 
tated. 

Travelling by easy stages she brought him to Boulogne 
on the evening of Tuesday, October 8th. She was met with 
the news that a storm had raged in the Channel all day, and 
she was faced with the problem as to whether it would be 
advisable to risk Fred on board the steamer during the tem- 
pestuous weather. Fortunately the wind died down, and the 
sea settled to a comparative calm before the night boat was 
ready to leave harbour. A cabin de luxe had been engaged 
for him, and to this resting place he was taken, and there 
he remained during the voyage, his presence unsuspected 
by the two hundred other passengers on board. 

Fred was attended by a German male nurse, for of course 
Jelka would have found the task of moving him quite be- 
yond her strength. All she could do was to sit by his side 
during the crossing, and keep him interested and amused. 
When they arrived at Folkestone they waited until all the 
other passengers had gone ashore before they attempted to 
move him. He was then carried in his invalid chair, propped 
up with cushions, down the gangway to a waiting am- 
bulance. All that the press-men, who had come down to 

219 



FREDERICK DELIUS 

witness his return, could see was a figure with silvered hair, 
wearing a grey felt hat, a heavy overcoat, with his sightless 
eyes shielded by tortoiseshell glasses and a pale, wrinkled 
ascetic face. A stretcher was brought from the ambulance, 
and on this, after my brother had been lifted from the chair, 
he was laid, the nurse, according to the description of an 
eye-witness, performing this task as if he were a child. 

Fred had found the journey tiring, though they had 
broken it at Beauvais and Boulogne. But the wonderful 
devotion and care of his wife had smoothed away all the 
most trying features of the ordeal. From the quay side he 
was taken to the Grand Hotel at Folkestone, and the follow- 
ing day, August 9th, the same ambulance transported him 
to the Langham Hotel, London, where he was met by Mr. 
Balfour Gardiner and other old friends. His rooms there 
were, I believe, filled with flowers. 

Though Fred's heart was set on attending the Festival, he 
never believed it would be possible. Up to the last moment, 
indeed, within a few hours of my sister-in-law deciding to 
take the risk, nothing had been settled. To the Yorkshire 
Observer of October 8th he sent a message, which showed 
how undecided his movements were. 

I hardly know whether I shall be able to undertake the 
journey to London to be present at Sir Thomas Beecham's 
great Festival of my music. If all remains well we are to 
start for London in a few days, and though I should greatly 
enjoy going to Yorkshire too, I am afraid it will not be 
possible. But I sincerely hope that the Yorkshire music lovers 
who are not hampered by illness as I am will come to hear 
these concerts in London. I should like also to thank all 
Yorkshiremen who have shown such friendly interest in the 
coming event. 

220 



FREDERICK DELIUS 

Contrary to expectations and the fears of Jtiis friends 
Fred's health seemed to improve miraculously once he was 
in London. The excitement and the enthusiastic welcome 
he received from everybody acted upon him like a mar- 
vellous stimulant. On Thursday, October ioth, he attended 
a rehearsal. Some Press photographer took a picture of him 
being wheeled through the streets to this rehearsal. It is a 
very pathetic picture, and I, remembering the vital brother 
of my youth, with his amazing energy, came very near to 
crying when I saw its reproduction in the Press. 

There is one feature of that astonishing Festival which 
has a certain macabre flavour of humour. As I have pointed 
out again and again my brother detested newspaper pub- 
licity. He demanded that his music should be admired for 
its artistic qualities, and that alone. Anecdotes, of course, 
gathered about him in the course of the years, but their very 
fewness, and the numerous occasions on which they were 
trotted out was a proof in itself that Fred resolutely re- 
frained from allowing the issue of any " press matter ". 
And yet his presence at a series of concerts in his honour 
in 1929 was undoubtedly the reason — or one of the reasons 
—why the Festival was such a huge success. 

That photograph I have spoken of caught the public 
imagination. People, who had never heard my brother's 
music, were touched by a sentiment which sent them crowd- 
ing to the box offices to secure tickets. As I read what was 
written in the papers stressing the pathos of his appearance 
I found myself repeating again and again, " How Fred mast 
hate it all," but fortunately, of course, he could not read 
the papers, and I imagine that my sister-in-law must have 
been discreet in the excerpts she brought to his notice. 

The series of concerts were held on Saturday, October 

221 



FREDERICK DELIUS 

1 2th, Wednesday, October 16, Friday, October 18th, Wed- 
nesday, October 23rd, Thursday, October 24, and Friday, 
November 1st. At every one of those performances the 
seats were sold out, for the public " induced to hear music, 
and Delius's music, by reason of the human touch of the 
man as well as the musician " — I am quoting a contempor- 
ary report — " literally beseiged the entrances to the Queen's 
Hall." From a box office point of view alone the Festival 
went with an ever increasing swing. When the last day was 
reached all the scenes of enthusiasm that had been enacted 
before were made to look of no account. Fred's Mass of 
Life, by many considered to be his greatest work, had been 
chosen for the final concert. There was not even standing 
room in the great building. My youngest daughter, Mar- 
garet, was the only member of the family lucky enough to 
secure a seat. 

Most people are familiar with the picture by H. James 
Gunn of Fred listening to his Mass of Life. It appeared in 
the next year's Academy and was sold for £1,125. That I 
do not like the picture — or perhaps I should say its subject — 
is purely a matter of taste. I am convinced that the Fred of 
other days would never have consented to the portrait being 
painted. As he himself would have said, he hated that sort 
of reclame, and the suggestion that he was what psycho- 
logists call an exhibitionist would have made the ardent 
disciple of Nietzsche explode. 

After the wonderful performance was over — Beecham, I 
was told, conducted like one inspired — the cheering and 
clapping lasted for several minutes, people throwing their 
programmes and flowers up in the air in their exuberance. 
Everybody knows from listening to the wireless how en- 
thusiastic Queen's Hall audiences can be, but they outdid 

222 



FREDERICK DELIUS 

themselves on this occasion. Quite suddenly there was 
silence, and every eye was turned to that pathetic figure in 
his chair on the balcony. There was a long pause, and then 
Fred spoke. I don't suppose he delivered a speech in public 
more than half a dozen times in his life, and this was to 
be the last occasion, as perhaps the audience guessed. His 
voice quivered with emotion. 

" Ladies and Gentlemen, thank you for the very fine re- 
ception you have given me. It was wholly unexpected. I 
also wish to thank Sir Thomas Beecham for the inspired 
manner in which he has played my music." He paused and 
then added, " This Festival has been the time of my life. 
Again I thank you." 

Margaret, who was then engaged, and took her fiance up 
to be introduced to her uncle and aunt, said the solid mass 
of people waiting in the hope of even a glimpse of Fred 
had to be seen to be believed. Fearful, I imagine, lest the 
emotional strain might be too much for him, my sister-in- 
law decided to get him away from the Queen's Hall as 
quickly as possible. According to an eye-witness this was 
the occasion for even wilder scenes than after any previous 
performances of the Festival. People swarmed up railings 
and steps in an effort to catch sight of him, and cheered 
loudly. Outside in the street traffic was brought to a stand- 
still by the crowd, and a posse of police had to fling them- 
selves between Fred and his admirers in order that he might 
be got safely to his hotel. 

One other feature of that memorable Festival must not 
pass unnoticed. It was a speech by Sir Thomas Beecham. 
Standing at the conductor's desk he addressed the great 
audience, still intoxicated with emotion. He stated that at 
the beginning of the Festival he had pointed out that Delius 

223 



FREDERICK DELIUS 

had composed more beautiful music than any other living 
composer. Someone who did not know what he was talking 
about had rashly declared that his output was small. 

" My answer to that is that we could give another Festi- 
val next week of works which have not been included in 
these concerts. What has been played is only a small selec- 
tion of an output which is enormous. From his workshop 
Delius has produced no fewer than two hundred works." 

It will always be a matter of lasting regret to me that I 
who had followed my brother's career with such sisterly 
enthusiasm, who from those old days at Claremont had 
never faltered in my faith in his genius, could not be present 
at what I regard as the consecration of his life as an artist. 
I moved heaven and earth to be present, but it was im- 
possible. All I could do was to listen-in to the broadcast by 
the B.B.C. of The Mass of Life at the last concert. 

In the original programme of my brother's strange jour- 
ney to England a visit to Oxford had been set down. The 
University had been anxious to bestow on him the highest 
honour in their power — the degree of Doctor of Music, 
causa honoris. But considerations of health made this im- 
possible. Fred had now been nearly three weeks in England 
and had been subjected during that time to an intense ner- 
vous strain, which must have affected the strongest of men, 
let alone a man who was paralysed and blind. My sister-in- 
law very wisely decided that she would not be justified in 
subjecting him to the further strain of going up to Oxford, 
where the undergraduates would undoubtedly have given 
him a welcome quite as tumultuous as that of the Queen's 
Hall audience. Fred, therefore, never became a Mus. Doc. 
of Oxford, as the University have an unalterable rule, which 
may not be waived, even in the case of ill health, that every 

224 



FREDERICK DELIUS 



recipient of an honorary degree must attend for the cere- 
mony. As soon as it was possible he left London, and by the 
same easy stages by which he had come, returned to the 
quiet of his house at Grez. 

He was then sixty-eight years of age. Recognition had 
come to him late in life, but when it had come to him it had 
been poured out in abundant measure. Few artists have 
ever had such an experience as was accorded Fred in those 
wonderful autumn days of 1929. Sometimes I think, look- 
ing for a parallel, that the only experience that equals it is 
that of Voltaire returning to Paris on the threshold of the 
Revolution of 1778 — but this may be a sisterly exaggeration. 
There was still one other honour to come to him, however, 
in the six years that remained to him of life, and the history 
of this I shall record in the next chapter. 

It is rather a paradox that Fred, who was the most self- 
controlled and reserved of men, had the power of arousing 
people's emotions to fever pitch, as exampled in the scenes 
in the audience of the theatre at Christiania, which I have 
previously related. I was also told that on other occasions 
both in the house and in the street, admirers of his music 
had stopped his chair, embraced him warmly and presented 
him with bouquets of red roses and other flowers. 



225 



CHAPTER XII 

Anyone who has the slightest acquaintance with 
politics, national or local, must have carried away the 
* impression that the English people have an incurable 
habit of partisanship. Efforts have been made, it is true, in 
recent years, to pretend that there is a large section of the 
public in this country who are capable of rising above mere 
party interests, but the fate of that experiment — the almost 
immediate splitting up of a strongly supported coalition into 
its integral parts — suggests that this attitude of mind, while 
for a moment it may be suppressed, cannot be eradicated. 
This custom of seeing in quite reasonable causes an excuse 
for beating the party drum is common alike to the manage- 
ment of our national and our local interests. 

Looking back now it seems a matter of astonishment that 
the conferring of the Honorary Freedom of the City of 
Bradford on my brother should ever have been a matter of 
political discussion. When it was conferred it was done on 
the unanimous vote of the Council, but I believe I am right 
in saying that previous to this the proposal was turned down. 
It was not until some time after the King had made my 
brother a Companion of Honour that these political differ- 
ences were healed and the greatest distinction that is within 
the power of a city to grant, was conferred without dissent 
upon Fred. Even then certain members of the general 
public through the medium of the Press protested against 
the bestowal of the honour, not because they objected to my 
brother being so distinguished, but because they considered 

226 



FREDERICK DELIUS 

there were others, favourites of their own, who had equal 
or greater claims. I will try and tell the story, which is not 
without interest as a study in local politics, from the be- 
ginning. 

It began in 1929 with a letter from the Incorporated 
Society of Musicians (Yorkshire Section), written by the 
Honorary Secretary, Mr. A. T. Akeroyd, A.R,C,M., to 
Alderman Thornton Pullan, then Lord Mayor of Bradford. 
It was dated March 6th and ran as follows : 

My Lord Mayor. — At a meeting of the Bradford Centre, 
Incorporated Society of Musicians, held on Saturday last, it 
was suggested that the time had arrived when the City 
Council might reasonably consider the question of conferring 
the Freedom of the City on Frederick Delius, the eminent 
composer, and one of Bradford's most distinguished sons. 
He was born in 1863 at No. 1 Claremont, Horton, and 
educated at the Boy's Grammar School. 

Since leaving the City in 1883, he has achieved world-wide 
fame as a composer; he is now unfortunately almost blind, 
and living in retirement at Grez-sur-Loing, Fontainebleau, 
France. He is a Bradfordian of whom we ought to be very 
proud and we sincerely hope the Members of the City 
Council will look with favour upon our suggestion and by so 
doing recognise the genius of this great artist. 

His Majesty the King has recently recognised the greatness 
of Delius by creating him a Companion of Honour. 

There was some further correspondence; the Lord Mayor 
was sympathetic, even strongly in favour of the proposal. 
Following the usual practice he sounded several members 
of the City Council. Everything seemed to be going 
swimmingly when the passions of party politics were 
aroused. By the end of April 1929, the position had taken 
definite shape. 

227 



FREDERICK DELIUS 

The Lord Mayor found his wholehearted wish to secure 
the Freedom for rny brother considerably handicapped by 
an article which was published in the Bradford Telegraph 
and Argus. In the course of that article it was stated that 
further efforts were being made to obtain the Freedom of 
the City for Frederick Delius, and that the present attempt 
had developed so far as the calling of a private meeting of 
the representatives of the political parties of the City 
Council to discuss the matter during the coming week, it 
being understood that the Labour Party were willing to sup- 
port the nomination if the Freedom of the City were also 
granted to Miss Margaret McMillan. 

This Miss Margaret McMillan, who was thus thrown 
by the urge of partisan feeling into quite undesired com- 
petition with my brother, was a lady whose great social 
work has left a mark upon the country. She was not a 
Bradfordian, having been born in New York, and spent her 
childhood in Scotland. She had, however, been elected to 
the Bradford School Board in 1894, and held her position 
there until 1902. She was the pioneer of physical education, 
and it was due largely to her devoted efforts that we have 
to-day the modern medical inspection of school children. 
To her enterprise, too, we owe the school clinics. In recog- 
nition of her noble services to the state, the C.B.E. was 
conferred upon her in 191 7. It was this great social worker 
who all unwittingly was to prevent for three years the con- 
ferring of the Freedom upon Fred. 

In 1929, most members of the City Council were in 
favour of honouring my brother, but the Labour Party 
were adamant that the distinction should be linked with 
the conferring of a similar honour upon Miss Margaret 
McMillan. Though the usual methods of diplomacy were 

228 



FREDERICK DELIUS 

employed, the Labour Party on the Council would not 
budge from their attitude. The Lord Mayor had, therefore, 
reluctantly to abandon the matter. For three more years 
the question was brought up again and again in various 
forms, and invariably side-tracked because of the lack of 
unanimity. It was not until May 1932 that it was found 
possible to take the long delayed step. 

I must not be understood to be voicing any objections 
to the delay in these proceedings. I think, myself, that it 
renders the honour that was finally conferred upon my 
brother one of greater distinction, insomuch as in the result 
the proposal survived and emerged triumphant from the 
clash of party politics. Moreover, the City of Bradford had 
never been too generous in the conferring of this, the 
greatest distinction in its possession. Up to 1932 only ten 
men had been so honoured, and of those ten only three 
were then alive — Sir James Hill, who was over eighty; Sir 
Frederick Priestman, then a nonagenarian, and ex-Sergeant 
James William Robertshaw, who was chosen by lot to repre- 
sent the Bradford men who served in the war. Among the 
list of Freemen was Earl Haig, but there had been no ad- 
dition to the roll since 1926. 

What was afoot at first appeared in the Press on May 
2 1 st, 1932. I will quote an extract from The Leeds Mercury 
of that date : 

The Freedom of the City will be conferred upon Frederick 
Delius the Bradford-born composer, if a resolution, which 
is to be moved by the Lord Mayor (Alderman George 
Walker) at the next meeting of the Corporation of the 
Finance and General Purposes Committee, is carried. For 
many years there has been a feeling that some civic tribute 
should be paid to this distinguished son of Bradford. 

229 



FREDERICK DELIUS 

The Leeds Mercury understands that the leaders of the 
three political parties on the City Council met recently, and 
after discussion agreed that the step be taken. To-day they 
waited upon the Lord Mayor, and placed the proposal be- 
fore him. 

To a reporter to-night, Alderman Walker said : " It is a 
step in the right direction. The honour is well deserved." 

He said it was expected Delius would visit London in 
October and if the proposal were approved, and the com- 
poser acquainted of it, Delius might possibly attend the City 
in person to receive the honour. 

Leaders of music in Bradford expressed their great pleasure 
when they were informed of the proposal to-night by a 
Mercury reporter. 

Here are some opinions : 

Mr. W. H. Suddards, Chairman of the Bradford Festival 
Choral Society : " I am very glad. I think it is appropriate 
that the Freedom of the City should be offered to Delius 
as an acknowledgment of his work and citizenship." 

]\ A r. Mean well Henton, Honorary Secretary of the Brad- 
ford Subscription Concerts: "It is very pleasing that some 
recognition is to be made. I think it is an honour which 
Delius merits. Although he left us at an early age, he did 
actually derive his first musical impressions in Bradford. 
His father was a member of the Subscription Concert Com- 
mittee, and the Delius family used regularly to entertain 
visiting artists of distinction." 

Mr. Ernest Halliday, President of the Bradford Old 
Choral Society, and President of the Bradford Music Club : 
" The step has the hearty approval of all musically minded 
people in Bradford. Really, I think, it is an honour long 
overdue." 

Mr. Halliday said Delius last visited the City when he 
attended the Centenary Celebrations of the Old Choral 
Society in 1921. At that time he consented to conduct the 
final rehearsal of the Society of his own composition Sea 

230 



FREDERICK DELIUS 

Drift. He could not be induced to conduct the public per- 
formance, however. 

Two days later the Yorkshire Post, in a leading article, 
written on the text that Bradford was to honour itself by 
conferring the Freedom of the City of Bradford on 
Frederick Delius, endeavoured to define my brother's 
position in the musical word. 

To appreciate his music [the article remarked] demands 
some effort, not so much from those who are young enough 
to be susceptible to fresh impressions as from those who 
have grown up under the traditions of the great Germans, 
who, from Haydn to Brahms, were for over a century en- 
gaged in developing the form of Symphony and Sonata. 
Delius absorbed their teachings in his youth, but his in- 
dividual bent led him into paths so new that his critics must 
adopt a fresh orientation if they are to follow him. He has 
been said to represent the sunset of the Great Romantic 
period of which Beethoven is the morning and Wagner the 
high noon, so if this be a correct diagnosis of his position 
in history, we may assume that the bright young spirits who 
follow Hindemith and Stravinsky will regard him as already 
out of date. But nothing can deprive us of the satisfaction 
of listening to music whose leading attribute is serenity, 
carrying out Wordsworth's definition of poetry as "The 
spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings, taking its origin 
from emotion recollected in tranquillity." 

With regard to this diagnosis of my brother's music, it 
is interesting to note what Fred's own views were about his 
art. " For me, music is very simple; it is the expression of 
a poetic and emotional nature." 

The meeting of the Finance and General Purposes Com- 
mittee at which the proposal that my brother should be 

231 



FREDERICK DELIUS 

admitted as an Honorary Freeman of the City was not due 
to take place until June 7th. A fortnight before this date 
letters began to appear in the papers protesting against the 
selection of my brother. But these objections were hardly 
noticed in the almost universal approval of the proposal. 
On June 7th, upon the motion of Alderman Gadie, 
seconded by Alderman Pullan, and supported by Alder- 
man Carter, the leaders of the three political parties in 
Council, the Finance and General Purposes Committee 
unanimously carried the Resolution: 

That Mr. Frederick Delius, C.H., a native of the city, be 
admitted to be an Honorary Freeman of the City of Brad- 
ford as an appreciation of his musical eminence; and that 
the Lord Mayor and the Chairman and Deputy Chairman 
be requested to make all such arrangements as they deem 
suitable and proper in connection with the ceremony, with 
power to act. 

As a result of this decision a letter was dispatched to 
my brother on June 16th. 

Dear Sir: 

I have much pleasure in informing you that the City 
Council at their meeting on Tuesday last passed the Resolu- 
tion that you be admitted an Honorary Freeman of the 
City of Bradford as an appreciation of your musical 
eminence. 

It is the usual practice in cases in which the Honorary 
Freedom of the City is to be conferred that the persons on 
whom it is to be conferred should attend a meeting of the 
City Council especially convened for the purpose and at 
which the Lord Mayor and the Aldermen and Councillors 
wear their Robes of Office. After the recipient of the Honour 
has made a solemn affirmation and signed the Roll of 
Honorary Freemen, the Lord Mayor extends to him the 

232 



FREDERICK DELIUS 

right hand of fellowship, and welcomes him in the name of 
the Citizens of Bradford and presents to him the Certificate 
of his Freedom. 

I am desired by the Lord Mayor (Alderman George 
Walker, J.P.) to inquire when you will be able to visit Brad- 
ford for the purpose of receiving the Honorary Freedom? 
The Lord Mayor desires me to add that he will endeavour 
to arrange the special meeting of the City Council to suit 
your convenience, but he will be glad if you would avoid 
the month of August, as many members of the Council 
will be absent from Bradford on holiday during that month. 

Yours faithfully, 

N. L. Fleming, 

Town Clerk. 

Six days later a reply was received from my brother. 

Dear Sir: 

Will you kindly convey to the City Council at Bradford 
my gratification on hearing of their Resolution, by which 
I have been admitted an Honorary Freeman of the City? 
While I appreciate to the full the honour which they have 
conferred upon me, I am obliged to inform you that the 
state of my health will not permit me to travel to England 
in the near future. Indeed, it may be many months before 
I could do so, and at the best there is no definite certainty 
that I shall be able to go at all. I should be glad if you will 
acquaint the Lord Mayor of my dilemma with a view to 
ascertaining if there be any alternative issue from it. I am, 

Yours faithfully, 

Frederick Delius. 

Undoubtedly this reply of my brother's was a cause of 
general disappointment in the city. When such public 
tributes are paid the public naturally desire as far as pos- 
sible to take their part in the ceremony. They had been 

^33 



FREDERICK DELIUS 

prepared to give him a rousing Yorkshire reception. But 
quite apart from this disappointment deep sympathy was 
felt with my brother with regard to its cause. The point 
raised by Fred — the possibility of some alternative method 
of bestowing the Freedom being arrived at — was considered 
at a meeting of the Finance and General Purposes Com- 
mittee on June 30th, as the result of which the following 
letter was dispatched to my brother : 

Dear Sir: 

I am desired by the Lord Mayor to inform you that your 
letter of the 20th inst. has been submitted to the Finance 
and General Purposes Committee who express their regret 
that the state of your health does not permit you to travel 
to England in the near future. In the circumstances they 
have requested the Lord Mayor and myself to visit you at 
your residence for the purpose of handing over the Cer- 
tificate or Scroll, and obtaining your signature to the Roll 
of Honorary Freeman, if this is agreeable to you. On the 
assumption that this is agreeable, I should be glad if you 
will let me know whether it would be convenient to you to 
see the Lord Mayor and myself at your home either on 
Saturday the 23rd of July, or on Tuesday or Wednesday the 
26th or 27th of July. 

When you reply, will you kindly inform me which is the 
best way for the Lord Mayor and myself to reach your house 
from Paris, where we will probably stay the night— i.e., by 
railway or motor bus, or by hiring a private motor car? 

Please inform me whether on being admitted you will take 
the Oath or make a Solemn Affirmation. 

Yours faithfully, 

N. L. Fleming, 

Town Clerk. 



234 



FREDERICK DELIUS 

Grez-sur-Loing, 

July 4th, 1932. 
Dear Sir: 

Your letter of June 30th has given me great pleasure, and 
I wish to thank the Lord Mayor and the Finance and General 
Purposes Committee very heartily. 

The Lord Mayor's intention to visit me here at Grez-sur- 
Loing has touched me deeply. I am ready to make a Solemn 
Affirmation and to sign the Honorary Roll of Freeman as 
you propose. Saturday, July 23rd, will suit me perfectly, 
and I hope that you will both give me the pleasure of your 
company to lunch on that day. . . . 

Yours faithfully, 

Frederick Delius. 

All these preliminaries having been completed, a meet- 
ing of the City Council was held on Tuesday, July 5th, at 
which the resolution proposed by the Lord Mayor (Alder- 
man George Walker, J.P.), that " The Council do admit 
Frederick Delius, Esq., C.H., a native of the City of Brad- 
ford, to be an Honorary Freeman of the City of Bradford 
in recognition of his distinguished career and eminence in 
the world of music," was carried unanimously. Alderman 
H, Thornton Pullan, J.P.; Alderman Anthony Gadie, J.P., 
and Alderman Alfred Pickles, J.P., as representing the three 
parties on the Council, all made speeches paying tribute to 
my brother's genius. 

A faint flavour of comedy was associated with the trans- 
port of the illuminated scroll, on which was inscribed the 
City's formal resolution. The scroll was enclosed in a hand- 
some solid silver-gilt frame, eighteen inches by twelve, made 
by Messrs. Sweeny's of Bradford. Whilst on his way to 
Grez, the Lord Mayor had to attend a Royal Garden Party 
at Buckingham Palace and he was not anxious to burden 

235 



FREDERICK DELIUS 

himself with this bit of luggage, presumably on the very 
justifiable ground that it might be mislaid. He was deter- 
mined, therefore, to send it on ahead by post, and a letter 
was dispatched to my brother asking him to receive and re- 
tain the parcel until the Lord Mayor's arrival. This letter 
was answered by a telegram, "Do not dispatch parcel. 
Await letter." Two days later a letter from Mrs. Delius 
arrived. 

Dear Sir : 

On receipt of your letter of July the 15th, I have wired 
to you: "Do not dispatch parcel. Await letter. Delius." 
My husband wishes me to explain to you that parcels, large 
and small, take weeks to arrive in France from foreign 
countries. The formalities of the customs are most involved 
and require the sending of affidavits and declarations with- 
out end. Your parcel could not possibly arrive here in time, 
and I may assure you from a life-long experience that the 
only way to get it safely across is to bring it with you as 
personal luggage. In that way you may also avoid the heavy 
duty on silver articles. The parcel should be so arranged 
that it can be easily opened at the French customs, where 
you had best explain in English that it is a present you are 
bringing to a celebrated Englishman residing in France. In 
the French ports they all understand English. With kind 
regards from Mr. Delius, believe me, 

Yours sincerely, 

Jelka Delius. 

My sister-in-law's fears with regard to the attitude of the 
French customs was more than justified. Under the spur 
of economic nationalism, the republican authorities de- 
manded an amount in duty on the silver gilt frame, which 
represented some sixty per cent, of its value. Actually, the 
frame, which was surmounted with the Bradford coat of 

236 



FREDERICK DELIUS 

arms, cost ten guineas. The scroll, which was the work of 
M. E. H. Pratt of Chapel Allerton, Leeds, cost sixteen 
pounds, fifteen shillings. The customs' charges amounted to 
six pounds, five shillings and sixpence ! 

On July 22nd the Lord Mayor was joined in London by 
Mr. N. L. Fleming, the town clerk, and Mr. H. Cope, the 
mace bearer, and the whole party proceeded to France. On 
July 23rd, following the minute instructions sent them by 
Fred, they motored to Grez-sur-Loing, arriving there shortly 
before 1 2 noon. For a contemporary record of the ceremony 
I will give the report of the Yorkshire Observer corres- 
pondent. 

One of Britain's greatest composers, Frederick Delius, be- 
came a Freeman of the City of Bradford yesterday after- 
noon. 

It was a simple ceremony, performed in the artistically 
furnished studio of the composer's country home at Grez- 
sur-Loing by the Lord Mayor of Bradford (Alderman George 
Walker) and the Town Clerk (Mr. N. L. Fleming). 

But it was a ceremony full of dramatic moments, for 
Delius, now aged, ill, and with failing sight, recalled 
his youthful memories of Bradford and told how he often 
pined for a final whiff of the Yorkshire moors before he 
died. 

The steady hand of his wife guided the composer's trembl- 
ing fingers as he signed the roll of Honorary Freemen of 
Bradford. 

Thin and emaciated, Delius sat, propped up by cushions, 
and listened carefully as the Lord Mayor read the resolution 
passed by the Bradford City Council conferring upon him 
the Freedom of the City. 

A copy of this resolution, in the form of an illuminated 
scroll in a solid silver-gilt frame, was presented to Delius. 

The Lord Mayor declared: "I beg to give you the right 

237 



FREDERICK DELIUS 

hand of friendship as a Freeman of the City of Bradford 
and to present to you this certificate." 

Replying to the Lord Mayor, Delius, his voice trembling 
with emotion, said: "Please convey to the citizens of 
Bradford how deeply I appreciate the great honour done 
to me. I feel that this is one of the greatest moments of my 
life." 

The Lord Mayor then explained that the City Council 
had greatly regretted that Delius was not present when the 
resolution was passed. 

" It was unanimous," he declared, " Conservatives, Liberals 
and Labour members all joined in this tribute to your great 
genius and many qualities. You are one of the greatest men 
in the musical world, and your name will live in music 
when other so-called great men of the hour are forgotten." 

Delius showed curiosity as to his fellow-freemen on the 
Roll. Mr. Fleming then read the list of names. The com- 
poser listened eagerly as name after name was read, and 
when Mr. Fleming reached that of Field-Marshal Earl 
Haig, Delius interrupted, saying, "I'm overwhelmed to find 
myself in such distinguished company." 

The Lord Mayor and Town Clerk then began to talk of 
Delius's early life in Bradford. Speaking of those days, 
Delius said, " Yes, I climbed a good many times over the 
piles of coal and played in the nooks and corners of Brad- 
ford. I owe a great deal to Yorkshire. In my music much 
of my inspiration has come from the moors. I hope to get 
one more whiff of them before I die." 

Delius endured the ordeal of being photographed and 
questioned, but appeared to tire very quickly. 

When asked how he spent his time at Grez-sur-Loing, 
Delius replied that he was doing no work at all at the present 
time, but just resting. 

"We go out every day when the weather is pleasant, but 
the weather has been so bad recently that we have been 
forced to remain indoors." Then he remarked in a tone of 

238 






FREDERICK DELIUS 

infinite sadness. "The rain has completely wrecked my 
garden." 

Despite his obvious weakness Delius insisted on helping in 
placing the illuminated scroll on the wall of his studio. The 
scroll reads : 

" This is to certify that Frederick Delius, Esquire, having 
made solemn affirmation, has been duly admitted to be an 
honorary Freeman of the City, pursuant to the resolution 
of the Fifth Day of July, Nineteen Hundred and Thirty- 
Two." 

The oath taken by Delius was as follows : 

" I, Frederick Delius, solemnly, sincerely and truly declare 
and affirm that I will be true to our sovereign lord King 
George V., his heirs and successors, and will also be obedient 
to the Lord Mayor of the City of Bradford and to the 
franchises and usages of the said city," 

Though the visit occupied only two hours — the Lord 
Mayor and his party arrived at 11.45 ajn - an( ^ ^ at 
1.45 p.m. — much time being taken up by the formal cere- 
monies and the lunch, my brother appears to have talked 
freely about his old days in Bradford, resurrecting names 
and memories. When the Lord Mayor mentioned that he 
had worked for twenty-five years with the firm of Hirsch, 
Pinner, Fred responded with several anecdotes about Mr. 
Pinner with whom he had been friends for many years. He 
made an odd boast — odd, that is to say, comirg from one 
who had rebelled against the Bradford trade — saying that 
he understood the textile business. " I was a wool sorter at 
Cravens, of Thornton/' he declared, " but the trade did not 
quite suit me, and when I got older I leaned more towards 
music." 

Perhaps it is not quite amiss to detect in this speech 
a faint flavour of kindly irony. He also appears to have 

239 



FREDERICK DELIUS 

talked to the Lord Mayor about the sporting celebrities of 
his youth, especially inquiring about a cricket field in which 
he used to play in Easby Road. On the deputation's return 
to Bradford two letters passed between my brother's house- 
hold and the Town Clerk. 

Grez-sur-Loing, 

July 28th, 1932. 
Dear Mr. Fleming : 

The cuttings and pictures you so kindly sent me gave us 
the greatest pleasure. My husband wishes me to tell you 
and the Lord Mayor how much he enjoyed your visit. He 
felt happy and not tired at all. It was indeed very good 
of you both to make such a long journey to present his 
honour to him, and he deeply appreciates it. With kindest 
remembrances to the Lord Mayor and yourself from us 
both. 

Yours sincerely, 

Jelka Delius. 

Grez-sur-Loing, 

August 9th, 1932. 
Dear Mr. Fleming : 

Forgive me for only thanking you to-day for the beautiful 
photograph you sent me. My wife has been away on a short 
holiday— hence the delay. She tells me that this photo is a 
beautiful souvenir of your festive visit, and that both you 
and the Lord Mayor are excellent likenesses. We think with 
great pleasure and gratitude of the presentation of the scroll. 
With kindest regards from us both, to the Lord Mayor and 
yourself. 

Yours sincerely, 

Frederick Delius. 

So concluded these civic transactions with the city of his 
birth. Less than two years later communications were once 

240 



FREDERICK DELIUS 

more to pass between the Town Clerk of Bradford and 
Grez-sur-Loing. This time they were to concern themselves 
not with the bestowal of an honour upon the living, but 
with the sad duty of showing respect to the distinguished 
dead. 



241 



CHAPTER XIII 

TfHE records of humanity contain innumerable in- 
stances of sufferings patiently and courageously borne, 
of physical disabilities triumphed over, of victories of 
the spirit over the body as noble as any of those won upon 
the field of battle. Among these the story of Fred's last 
few years deserves to take a high place. 

I have never understood — perhaps because of the limita- 
tions of my intelligence, of which I am very conscious — 
how those who, like Fred, do not believe that there is any- 
thing to survive after death — that when the machinery of 
the body has run down there is nothing left except what 
will in due course turn to a handful of dust " to keep the 
wind away " — manage to give a purely physiological ex- 
planation of personality — the something — spirit, ego, con- 
ditioned reflexes, the inherited tendencies of the past — which 
seems so mysteriously independent of the body. My 
brother could mercifully hear and feel, but he had almost 
lost the power of movement and he was quite blind. Amidst 
this physical wreckage there was something at any rate 
that survived undimmed— something which left his courage 
undaunted, his interest in life vital and acute, his love 
of his art unspoiled ; and I might add, his capacity for work, 
as far as his creative ability went, still functioning. The 
habit of application never failed him, in spite of his dis- 
tressing infirmities, and I shall always consider those last 
years as one of the noblest episodes of his life. 

Of course this wonderful illustration of the triumphs of 

242 



FREDERICK DELIUS 

a man over his environment would have been impossible 
in his case had it not been for the devotion of those about 
him. First and foremost the world owes it to my sister-in- 
law that he was still able to add to the sum of our posses- 
sions in the matter of beauty. Her love and service were 
poured out in unstinted measure, and that marvellous com- 
panionship, to which Fred owed so much, remained un- 
spoiled until the end, making his broken life endurable and 
helping him to continue to create. 

It was a very rare occurrence for my sister-in-law to lift 
the veil which shrouded the menage at Grez, but early in 
1932 a letter from her to a friend in London was published 
in the Daily Telegraph, presumably with her permission, 
describing how Fred occupied his time. His seventieth 
birthday was approaching and she related how the day 
would be celebrated by a concert of some of his own works. 
Outwardly Fred might be a pathetic figure, but inwardly 
he was his own self. On his birthday, my sister-in-law 
explained, he would certainly ask for a bottle of cham- 
pagne to be opened, for he loved a glass of good wine. To 
his friends gathered about him he would talk, not like 
somebody from the grave, but with all his old gaiety and 
humour. His ironic wit would flash among a hundred sub- 
jects with all his old abandon, while his audience listened 
delighted and spellbound. 

Though his health at this time remained quite un- 
changed, he showed not the slightest signs of depression. 
Music, literature, the multiplicity of international prob- 
lems, were all subjects in which he took the keenest interest. 
Three devoted persons formed his private entourage — his 
wife herself, an excellent male nurse, and a young girl sec- 
retary. For most of the day they read to him in English, 

*43 



FREDERICK DELIUS 

French, German and Norwegian. The internationalism of 
his tastes — his remarkable knowledge of languages — en- 
abled him to keep au courant with most of what was being 
thought and said from day to day in the outer world. The 
wireless, of course, he found an immense boon, and when- 
ever there were programmes that interested him he listened 
in. 

Apropos of the wireless there was considerable conten- 
tion in the papers about this time regarding the attitude of 
the B.B.C. towards his music. In 1932 his seventieth birth- 
day was approaching, and by way of honouring it, it was 
announced that two of his works, Caprice and Elegy, would 
be broadcast in the National Programme. I have preserved 
a letter which appeared in the Press about this time from a 
Mr. Clinton Gray-Fisk, which illustrates the indignation 
which was felt among my brother's admirers of this some- 
what reluctant recognition of his genius. 

The attitude of the B.B.C. with regard to Delius's birth- 
day is astounding. Peter Warlock described Delius as " one of 
the supremely great masters of music ", and Sir Thomas 
Beecham called him " the greatest composer since Wagner ". 
Yet Delius on his seventieth birthday will have only two 
trifles, for 'cello, performed at Savoy Hill. 

When Elgar's seventy-fifth birthday occurs on June 2nd we 
are promised a whole festival of his works. Why this scant 
treatment of Delius? Probably it is because only one British 
conductor possesses the intimate understanding to evoke the 
subtle beauties of this music, and he does not broadcast. I 
refer, of course, to Sir Thomas Beecham, who has laboured on 
Delius's behalf for over a quarter of a century, and who 
organised the wonderfully successful Delius Festival of 1929. 
Our greatest conductor and greatest composer — both virtually 
ignored by the B.B.C, and in favour of wretched foreign 

244 



FREDERICK DELIUS 

mediocrities! What is to become, musically, of a country that 
permits such topsy-turvy treatment of genius? 

My sister-in-law, in continuing her description of Fred's 
daily life at this time, related how when it was fine he was 
taken out into the garden in his bath-chair. Though for him 
the world was dark, his marvellous imagination enabled him 
to respond instantly to the descriptions that his wife gave 
him of the scenery he adored — twilight in the old garden, 
the glory of the evening sky, the swoop of birds, the miracle 
of the flowers, the old English rose garden aflame in the 
sunset, sun-warmed peaches and nectarines against medieval 
grey walls. People who remembered him in the heyday of 
his health and vigour, his marvellous energy, which so often 
displayed itself in physical restlessness, his passion for long 
walks, his love of cycling, his ardous excursions in Norway, 
all wondered at what his wife described as " the calm and 
touching serenity with which he accepts his present state ". 

He was still talking at this time of that wonderful Festival 
of his music at the Queen's Hall, which I have described in 
another chapter. It was the golden episode of his life — the 
triumphant recognition of all he had meant to do when 
as a boy he had talked so excitedly to the admiring group of 
his sisters in the old schoolroom at Claremont. But my sister- 
in-law, honestly determined to give a picture of the real 
Fred, declined to paint him as the great artist, set apart from 
all human contact, living solely in a world of music and 
indifferent to the pleasures which gratified those of com- 
moner clay. She related how, when his talk turned to those 
wonderful weeks in London in October 1929, he spoke of the 
intoxicating taste of the English air, of such things as brown 
bread and butter and tea, of the Whitstable oysters, of the 
policemen who helped him across to Queen's Hall, of the 

245 



FREDERICK DELIUS 

kindliness and generosity of the English people, of London, 
of the smells and its crowds and its dear-remembered ways, 
which in spite of his blindness he had never forgotten, so that 
he was able to direct his wife as to the turnings she should 
take in getting him from one spot to another ! 

Next to my sister-in-law, the miracle by which Fred, in 
spite of his infirmities, was able to continue his work as a 
composer during those last years, was made possible by Eric 
Fenby. The association between the blind composer, then 
aged seventy, and the young man of twenty-five is in its way 
one of the most charming idylls that the history of art has 
thrown up. While still a boy in his teens at Scarborough, 
Fenby had been organist of three local churches, and had 
composed a suite for strings. Early attracted to my brother's 
music, he was overcome with despair when he read of the 
affliction that had descended upon him. Acting on a noble 
impulse, he wrote to Fred in 1928 and offered his assistance. 
My brother asked him to cross the Channel and come and 
talk the matter over with him. Fenby went and for nearly 
three years made his home at Grez. 

From that time onwards, as somebody has written, he 
became hands and eyes and a second self almost to my 
brother, with the result that half-forgotten projects were com- 
pleted, and musical memoranda were turned into finished 
compositions. Fred had been accustomed to dictate to his 
wife his musical scores — it used to fill me with amazement 
to watch her taking down what fell from his lips — and he 
employed the same methods with Eric Fenby. Mr. Fenby 
developed such skill in the difficult task he had set himself, 
that before long he could transcribe the music of Delius as 
rapidly as Delius, who was a very quick worker, could dictate 
it to him. 

246 



FREDERICK DELIUS 

Without this collaboration the world would probably have 
heard nothing at all of the music that my brother made for 
it during the last few years of his life. As it was, working 
with Fenby, he completed, miraculously it seems to me con- 
sidering his physical condition, an orchestral suite from his 
incidental music to Hassan, and a short orchestral piece en- 
titled Fantastic Dance. 

Eric Fenby remained with my brother until the very end, 
and took a foremost part in the last sad rites. Inevitably the 
parallel of the sightless Milton dictating to his daughters 
recurs to one's mind. Wordsworth, too, employed the mem- 
bers of his family as amanuenses, accustoming them to take 
down the poetry by which he might be suddenly inspired. 
But Milton's daughters acted from a sense of duty, and 
Wordsworth's family got into the habit of pandering to the 
laziness of their father, of whom it has been said, " He wrote 
the Ode to Duty, and then had done with that matter." The 
service Eric Fenby rendered to Fred was performed origin- 
ally from the mere impulse of artistic admiration. It was, I 
think, one of the most purely selfless actions of which the 
world has any record, and wherever the music of Delius is 
loved, there the name of Eric Fenby should be held in rever- 
ence. 

That they became friends was inevitable, but it should 
be remembered that in 1928, when Fenby wrote under the 
influence of that generous impulse, offering his assistance, 
they were complete strangers to one another. The only link 
between them was my brother's music. 

I may mention here, somewhat out of place, perhaps, for 
I am now writing of events which took place before the Free- 
dom of Bradford was conferred upon him, of the movement 
which was set on foot, but came to nothing, to celebrate his 

247 



FREDERICK DELIUS 

seventieth birthday in his home city by the public purchase 
of our old home, Claremont. 

The house with which our family had had no connection 
for over thirty years had been put up for sale the previous 
December. Enthusiastic admirers of my brother's music 
proposed that it should be purchased and used as a memorial 
to Fred. As someone expressed it, it was felt that Bradford 
owed some act of homage to one of the greatest of her sons. 
It was pointed out that the price should not present any great 
difficulty. At the auction the previous December the prop- 
erty had been withdrawn for six hundred and twenty-five 
pounds and the auctioneers had notified their willingness to 
affect a sale somewhere in the neighbourhood of seven 
hundred pounds. 

But as so often happens when a few enthusiasts put forward 
a proposition of this kind, others, more cautious, " get cold 
feet ". It was pointed out that Bradford already had a suc- 
cessful music club, and that the house was not suitable. Mr. 
Meanwell Henton, as secretary of the Bradford Subscription 
Concerts, declared in an interview, " I think we are really 
concerned at the moment with whether ordinary music can 
continue. It would be irony if we had a Delius Memorial 
Home, but no one to perform his works. There is certainly 
apathy about buying the house, due, I think, to want of 
money. I have, therefore, wondered once or twice whether 
we should get a response for an appeal for funds throughout 
the country. Many people have expressed interest in the sug- 
gested purchase of the house, but so far as I know no one has 
offered any money towards the cost." 

Mr. Ernest Halliday, President of the Bradford Old Choral 
Society, took the view that it would be a better scheme to 
have a hall as a memorial to Delius. Another prominent 

248 



FREDERICK DELIUS 

member of the Bradford musical circles declared that " the 
probability is that most of those in Bradford who set any store 
by Delius's music would regard the almost complete collec- 
tion of his works in the Reference Department of the Brad- 
ford Central Library as the best spontaneous tribute to his 
genius ". Amidst these contradictory opinions the whole 
scheme fell through — a fact which I for one deeply regret, 
for not unnaturally I should have liked the house where Fred 
had opened his eyes upon the world, set apart for all time 
as a memorial to his artistic attainments. I am indeed con- 
vinced that had an appeal been issued to the public at large, 
even in those days of financial stress, the very small amount 
of money required would have been forthcoming. 

One of the most notable incidents of those last days was 
a visit to my brother of Sir Edward Elgar, who was fated to 
die just before Fred passed away from life. Sir Edward was 
accompanied on this visit by Mr. F. W. Gaisberg, the impre- 
sario. Fred's guest brought with him a gift of gramophone 
records — music by Sibelius and Hugo Wolf, but none of 
his own. This meeting between these two greatest living 
sons of British music was described by Mr. Gaisberg at the 
time in an interview, which I make no apologies for quot- 
ing: 

There was something of pathos in the meeting. Yet I have 
never seen two men with so much joy at being together again. 
Both of them are old — (Elgar was Fred's senior by five years) — 
and one is blind and stricken with paralysis. Yet, in the 
two hours that they were together they seemed completely to 
recapture their lost youth. They talked of happy days to- 
gether at Leipzig, of concerts where they had listened 
together, and of music they had created and played to each 
other. 

249 



FREDERICK DELIUS 

They were really like a pair of boys. Sir Edward was im- 
mensely enthusiastic over his first aeroplane flight from 
London to Paris, and he evolved with Delius a grandiose 
scheme so that they could fly round Europe together, giving 
the greatest concerts that the world has ever known. 

Delius, although stricken as he is, retains all his brightness, 
and he told Sir Edward that a new choral work upon which 
he has been engaged has almost been completed. Elgar, too, 
told him something of the music he was planning for the 
future, and they talked of great figures of the past now dead. 

Delius was touched by the present of music that Elgar had 
brought him in the shape of gramophone records. Delius 
said that he had to depend upon the radio for his music in 
these days, and he criticised, to some extent, the programmes 
that were broadcast. 

Delius spoke with affection of the lovely little villa in which 
he now lives, and told Elgar how often he listens to the song 
of the birds — he said it was the greatest music of all. He 
laughingly gibed at the B.B.C. who sent 'cellists down in the 
country to try and induce nightingales to sing. He said that 
birds would sing for him whenever he wanted them. 

When Elgar left Delius he was very much moved, and did 
not speak for a long time. 

I have pooled my memories of Fred in those rather tragic 
latter days with my daughter, Margaret, who spent the last 
Christmas with him at Grez, and out of that common stock 
I have resurrected pictures of his quiet home on the banks 
of the Loing which should, I feel, find a corner here. His 
garden on a summer morning was as though a Corot picture 
had come to life. I remember one morning in early autumn 
going down to the bottom of the garden and staring at the 
river's edge, looking across through the poplars to the 
meadow beyond. There was a slight mist, through which the 
sun glinted. In the foreground sat an old peasant woman with 

250 



FREDERICK DELIUS 

a blue handkerchief over her head, milking a cow. I might 
have been looking at one of the Corots in the Louvre. 

I used often to sit in his white boat and write — the same 
boat in which, before he was ill, he had composed so much. 
Poplars grew all along the river bank, and higher up, about 
a hundred yards, was a lovely old bridge, which had often 
echoed with the footsteps of Robert Louis Stevenson. Across 
this bridge we often used to push Fred in his chair. Close by 
was a small copse of wild cherry trees, which when the wind 
was in a certain quarter, or dusk was approaching, gave off 
a fragrance that was delicious. 

By a curious coincidence only a few weeks before I was 
walking over to Lothersdale with Margaret to see Stone 
Gappe once more, when suddenly upon the summit of the 
fells there we were conscious of the same divine scent. It 
reminded us of Fred and the old grey bridge by his house 
in France. 

At the bottom of Fred's garden was a lawn, planted here 
and there with apple trees, and surrounded almost by nut 
trees and bushes. Against one tree is a stone seat, partially 
covered with ivy, and behind grow huge bushes of pampas 
grass, in which the birds congregate in vast numbers. On 
each side of this lawn is a path. One is fringed with great 
clumps of Michaelmas daisies and wild strawberries, while 
the other is edged by the stream and a line of red currant and 
raspberry bushes and medlar trees. Picking the medlars was 
great fun, as one had to climb the tree or grasp a branch 
and hang out over the water in mid-air. Fred used to listen 
from his chair, and protest ironically when one of the fruit 
fell into the stream. 

In the autumn I used to amuse myself by sweeping these 
paths clear of their spendthrift carpet of leaves, which I 

25 1 



FREDERICK DELIUS 

made into piles and then transported in a barrow to the 
bottom of the garden. The stack I raised there I grew to be 
quite proud of — as one does of such simple operations — and I 
was most careful to keep it very neatly square. Several times 
when I was in the middle of this self-appointed task, Fred 
used to be wheeled down in his chair, and I would have to 
tell him what I was doing, and exactly how I was doing it, 
for his interest even in such trifling things remained curiously 
vital. 

Above the lawn was a small pond, the resting place of 
water-fowl. All around was tall grass and apple trees. The 
scarlet of the fruit would carpet the ground, and very pretty 
it looked. These windfalls, at Fred's orders, were always col- 
lected and pressed, and we drank the fresh juice immediately 
it was made. 

The routine of the day at Grez followed an almost unvary- 
ing programme. I used to get up and come down, taking my 
early morning coffee at eight, in the shadow of an old fig 
tree, which grew under the music-room window. Usually at 
twelve, though sometimes earlier, Fred would be brought 
downstairs, being carried by his man and placed in his chair. 
His first remark was always a cheery, " Well, here we are," 
as if he were trying to make the best of his helpless condition. 
My sister-in-law arrived and we would then read the papers 
to him — English, French and German. Often when I have 
been gabbling away through the columns of print for his 
amusement, I have stolen a glance at him. In nine cases out 
of ten I would catch him in an attitude which remains im- 
printed in my memory. His head was slightly lifted, as if he 
were trying to see something with his sightless eyes — almost 
as if he were listening, not to my voice, but to something I 
could not hear. That ascetic face seemed to have a spiritual- 

252 



FREDERICK DELIUS 

ity — an other-worldliness which I suppose is best interpreted 
by the word " fey ". 

At twelve-thirty dejeuner was served. A few minutes after 
the announcement of this meal Madame Greppie, the cook, 
came in with the seriousness of a Prime Minister, with a 
plate in her hand. On it was a tiny gout of whatever special 
dish Fred was having. This my sister-in-law always tasted, 
because if there was the tiniest bit too much salt, or too little 
pepper Fred, whose appetite was already minute, would im- 
mediately lose interest in the dish and refuse to eat it. It said 
a good deal for Madame Greppie's culinary skill that this 
very rarely happened. One delicacy of which Fred was very 
fond was peche Melba, made, I believe, from about a kilo 
of fresh peaches, crushed up with their juice added to the 
cream. 

During lunch we would have the wireless turned on — 
usually the Poste Parisienne station. No programme was 
ever completed in its entirety, because as soon as any music 
which Fred considered poor or cheap was played, the order 
came to switch off. When there was no music we talked — 
English among ourselves, French to the servants, German to 
his man, with an occasional burst of Norwegian thrown in 
to complete this polygot of languages. Fred sat in his chair 
just by the table, and was fed by his man standing behind 
him. Sometimes my sister-in-law or his man read to him in 
English, German or Norwegian. After lunch he was carried 
upstairs for a rest. When he could not sleep my sister-in-law, 
who never wearied in her devoted attendance, read to him 
again. At three-thirty he was brought down once more, and 
I used to make him his herb tea — a special concoction com- 
posed of various herbs and berry leaves found in the garden. 
While his man had his coffee my sister-in-law or I would take 

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FREDERICK DELIUS 

it in turns to read to him. Fred would then beg us to go for a 
walk, and my sister-in-law, if she could find it in her con- 
science to leave him, which did not happen very often, would 
reluctantly absent herself from his side until about six, when 
she would once more sit by him and read aloud. 

At seven we had a very light dinner, at which Fred always 
drank a pint of fresh milk. Sometimes I used to go and fetch 
this milk from the old French farm — a perfect setting for 
Frangois Villon — and having seen it drawn from the cow 
would return with it to the house. There it was warmed by 
standing it in a pan of hot water, and a few minutes after 
Fred would have it, sometimes with porridge. I do not think 
that Fred ever kicked against this infantile diet, for though 
he loved a glass of good wine, and revelled in the memory of 
Whitstable oysters, he could have lived cheerfully, and I 
think without noticing, on the ascetic diet of a hermit. This 
physical asceticism undoubtedly prolonged his life for many 
years. 

The demands made upon his domestic entourage, especi- 
ally on my sister-in-law, were enormous, but I must place it 
on record that that service so exacting was rendered freely, 
willingly and without question. I have tried to describe some- 
thing of the attention he required during the daytime — how 
his wife read to him for hours together. But her duties did 
not end there. At about eight Fred was carried upstairs and 
put to bed. His man then read to him till nine, when my 
sister-in-law went up and took over this duty until he fell 
asleep. Often in the night she would read to him till two or 
three in the morning. 

One of Fred's favourite excursions was to drive through the 
forest to Fontainebleau. This trip was repeated almost un- 
varyingly about once a week, and sometimes we used to see 

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FREDERICK DELIUS 

over the beautiful old chateau. Fred was always a welcome 
visitor to the market. In France people are much more par- 
ticular about things being absolutely fresh. For example they 
would burn vegetables which in the shops of this country 
would command a high price. At the Fontainebleau market 
people would buy their produce where it lay pearl dewed and 
fresh, having been cut or dug but an hour or two before and 
brought in from the country districts. Fred's popularity was 
shown by the fact that the keeper of every stall would ransack 
her stock to pick out the most perfect article for him. Fred 
loved roes, and I have seen the fisherwomen pick over dozens 
just to find the kind in the particular state in which he liked 
them. 

It was essential for Fred to live amid picturesque sur- 
roundings ; it was as necessary for him as the air he breathed, 
and to the end of my life I shall always associate him in my 
mind with the Grez setting — the old village, the forest, the 
busy, vivid market at Fontainebleau, with its huge, amber 
coloured canteloups, its piles of pearly fresh vegetables and 
fruit, its romantic market women. In Grez there is, or was, 
while I was there, a glass mender, who walked through the 
streets heralding his approach by playing a curious haunting 
tune on a little flute. Long, long ago Grez was a medieval 
town, complete with its fortified walls. Knights in shining 
armour rode its quaint streets, and fair maids wove their 
dreams in the old grey houses around. The arms have rusted 
and the dreams crumbled, and yet many years later, so it 
seems to me, the past was recreated when Stevenson visited 
the spot, and Delius came to rouse the memory of lost 
emotions by the haunting beauty of his music. 

To all those about him Fred was always thoughtful and 
kindly. I recall a small luncheon party given in honour of a 

155 



FREDERICK DELIUS 

celebrated composer who had come over for the week-end 
from England. We were all drinking champagne for the 
occasion. Fred insisted that the servants should have it too. 
Suddenly in the middle of lunch Fred interrupted the con- 
versation to inquire if the servants had champagne glasses. 
He was told that this was not the case, whereupon he insisted 
that the glasses should be issued to them on the grounds 
that they would appreciate the wine so much more. 

A rather bizarre memory recurs to me from those days at 
Grez. A celebrated 'cellist, whom we will call " B ", arrived 
during a very hot spell to stay with Fred for a few days. He 
always practised in the music-room with a huge fire burning 
in the grate, and with all the windows carefully closed and 
shuttered. At lunch time he would come down to the garden, 
where that meal was served, wearing a massive, many caped 
coat, and a large black Sombrero hat, which gave him a 
remarkable likness to Svengali. He would sit there in the 
boiling sun rubbing his hands, as though he was a member of 
an Arctic expedition, which might expect at any moment to 
light upon the Pole. 

One day consternation reigned as soon as we were up. 
Word went round that " B " was ill, and he had a concert in 
Berlin in a few days ! Fred's man, looking as grave as though 
he had the National Debt on his shoulders, conveyed the 
news to my sister-in-law. " Monsieur said would Madame 
please go and see him as soon as she could." 

With dismay in her heart and a thermometer in her 
hand my sister-in-law hurried away on her mission of mercy 
and healing. She found " B " lying, looking very pallid — 
which incidentally was the normal state of his complexion — 
and feeling very sorry for himself. " Oh, Madame Delius," 
he exclaimed, " but I am so ill ! Never shall I be able to play 

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FREDERICK DELIUS 

at my concert." Jelka thrust the thermometer firmly in his 
mouth and at the end of the allotted time, examining it, 
found that the mercury stood at normal. She then felt his 
pulse. That, too, was just as it should be. As his appetite 
was also extremely good she informed him that there were 
no solid grounds for his immediate expectation of death — 

that his temperature was normal. B sprang up like a 

rocket from the bed. " My temperature is normal? Then 
I am not ill ! I play at my concert ! All is well ! " He there- 
upon repaired immediately to the music-room, practised for 
three hours and later came down and ate an excellent lunch, 
going to Berlin next day splendidly fit. One other charac- 
teristic of this visitor to Fred's house I must mention. He 
always carried spare shirts to his concerts, making the neces- 
sary change in his 'cello-case, which, being a diminuitive 
little man, he could do with the utmost decency and comfort. 
One evening at Grez particularly stands out in my memory. 
Fred's musical friends were very attentive to him during his 
illness, and several of them came over to see him while I 
was there. Balfour Gardiner and Kennedy Scott both came 
together on one occasion, and we had some glorious music 
which Fred thoroughly enjoyed. One evening I sang some 
of Fred's songs to Kennedy Scott's accompaniment, which 
was so beautiful that the singing of the songs was a special 
delight to me. I may mention that it is very difficult to find 
anyone who can accompany a work by Delius properly, so 
that usually when I have sung any of my brother's songs I 
have had to do both the playing and the singing. Fred was 
already going to bed immediately after dinner, but as his 
bedroom was connected with the music-room by a short 
passage, he could hear when the door was left open as well 
as when he was in the room. I may be forgiven for mention- 

R 257 



FREDERICK DELIUS 

ing that I was congratulated on my performance, and the 
view expressed that it was a great pity I had not taken up 
singing professionally. Fred was particularly emphatic on 
this point, but I heroically forbore from reminding him of 
the time when he had earnestly begged me not to do this. 

Another visit that gave Fred the greatest pleasure was that 
of Mr. and Mrs. Howard Jones, the latter, a violinist per- 
forming under the name of Grace Thynne. They played 
one of Fred's works for violin and piano, and it was most 
interesting for me later on to hear this same work rendered 
by the Bournemouth Orchestra, conducted by Sir Dan God- 
frey, the violinist being again Mrs. Howard Jones. I, with 
my sister Mrs. Hudson, spoke to Sir Dan after the concert, 
and judging by the state of heat he was in, the task of con- 
ducting this work of Fred's must have made great physical 
demands upon him. 

Many interesting musicians used to come from Berlin, 
Paris, Frankfurt, and from all over the Continent to see 
Fred, bringing change and colour into his imprisoned life. 
One of these visitors whose coming to Grez touched Fred 
deeply, was, however, neither great nor famous. She was an 
Australian teacher of music who had made the trip from 
the Antipodes simply to see him because of the admiration 
and veneration in which she held my brother's work. She 
arrived, I remember, one glorious summer day, and Fred 
received her with all that charm and graciousness which he 
could exercise. He insisted on her having some champagne. 
Afterwards she was shown round the garden and over the 
house, finally catching the last train back to Paris. When 
she left him she was so overcome that she bent and kissed 
him on the forehead, much to the embarrassment of Fred, 
who was the typical undemonstrative Englishman, and had 

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FREDERICK DELIUS 

been brought up like all of us with the idea that any display 
of affectionate emotion was not done. 

As I have insisted again and again, Fred continued to the 
end his love for Yorkshire and his taste for Yorkshire things. 
On one occasion, when I was staying with him at Grez, he 
asked me to write to my husband and get him to order some 
real Yorkshire parkin — a species of gingerbread — some 
Wensleydale cheese, and Yorkshire bacon. This I did, and 
it was duly dispatched. But, alas ! the cheese never arrived. 
The Wensleydale evidently appealed to the French taste and 
entirely disappeared en route. The parkin and bacon had 
been obviously sampled, but not being appreciated, for- 
tunately, were in due course delivered. My daughter also 
used to bring crumpets over from England at Fred's request. 

It was a common thing for parties of students to come out 
to Grez and take photographs of the house, being shown all 
round the glorious old garden. It is typical of Fred's kindly 
nature that he would sometimes, when his health allowed, 
see them and talk to them himself, always insisting on their 
taking wine with him before they set out on their return 
journey. One luncheon party my daughter remembers. It 
was held late in 1933 in honour of Norman O'Neil, the 
composer of the music of Mary Rose. It was a very jovial 
entertainment, and none of the company could have im- 
agined that in less than a twelve-month both Fred and his 
visitor would have passed down into the shadows. 



259 



CHAPTER XIV 

On June ioth, 1934, my brother slipped quietly out of 
life. Though his friends and those who were in con- 
stant contact with him had lived for long with the 
thought of his death always present in their minds, the end, 
when it did come, was only anticipated for a few days. I think 
it was Friday, June 8th, that the first reports appeared in the 
papers as to his condition. Ten days previously my sister-in- 
law had undergone a serious operation. When the news was 
broken to her that the dread shadow had fallen at last, she 
insisted, with that courage and devotion so characteristic of 
her, on immediately leaving the nursing-home so that she 
could be with him at the end. 

In his Life of Queen Victoria Strachey has a wonderful 
passage in which he describes, in imagination, of course, the 
last moments of the Queen — how her mind went racing back 
with ever-increasing speed through the years, until the dark 
curtain dropped over it as her thoughts reached the earliest 
days of her childhood. If Fred's mind followed a similiar 
course, what strange pictures must have been conjured up 
before him? The performance of his last composition, which 
he had listened to on the wireless — the recognition by his 
native city, of which he had been so proud — the clamour of 
the crowd at Queen's Hall at the conclusion of the famous 
festival of his music — that thrill of surprise, recaptured 
again, perhaps, when he heard that he had been made a 
Companion of Honour — the God-like satisfaction at the com- 
pletion of one of his works, the creator's joy that it was the 

260 



FREDERICK DELIUS 

best he could do; concerts without end; music that made his 
soul drunk with ecstasy; Grez and the sullen muttering of 
the German guns; his home as he had seen it first; the songs 
of the birds and the colours of the flowers and the whispers 
of the slow-moving river; the image of the woman who had 
bound up his life with such devotion and loyalty; scenes from 
his strange, Bohemian days in the Latin Quarter; the 
Cremerie of the Mere Charlotte, where the figures of Strind- 
berg, Gauguin, and Mucha moved shadowily; Uncle Theo- 
dore, with his perfect clothes and his grand manner; the face 
of his father, angry and tempestuous, demanding to know 
when he was going to earn his living and do the work befit- 
ting a gentleman; pictures of America; Ward coughing out 
his life, and talking of music . . . music; the shack at Solano 
Grove and the smiling face of some darkie; Ernest, the irre- 
sponsible and the impossible, with his ingratiating manners 
and his jar of whisky; the steep streets of Bradford with its 
steam- trams and its broad, friendly voices; the hated ware- 
house and my father again, like a gaoler standing between 
him and escape into the only environment where he could 
be at home; the old nursery at Claremont; the well-remem- 
bered shape and look of the Erard upright; Rumbold's moor 
with the purple heather and the sighing of the wind in the 
sedges; happenings of childhood long forgotten; sounds re- 
membered that blended now in a magic of harmonies; and 
then oblivion — the oblivion of annihilation, as he believed — 
the survival, where all the beauties of his music-drenched 
soul could find free expression, as I hold. 

The news which appeared in the papers of Monday, June 
nth, was received throughout the world with deep regret. 
It had been announced on the Sunday through the wireless, 
and as a tribute to his memory an orchestra played the 

261 



FREDERICK DELIUS 

" Walk to the Paradise Garden " from his opera, A Village 
Romeo and Juliet. I do not know why there was such a long 
delay in recording his passing, for the actual dissolution took 
place at four o'clock in the morning, when the world was just 
waking to a lovely June morning. All the world's greatest 
musicians paid tribute to him — all except one — that one was 
Sir Thomas Beecham. At any rate in the reports I have care- 
fully kept, his name does not occur. He was too broken, 
perhaps, by the news that the friend whom he had done more 
than any other man to place on the pedestal of honour to 
which he was entitled, was no more. But there was no need 
for Beecham to join in the chorus of obituary praise. He had 
spoken his mind in public again and again on the subject 
of Frederick Delius during my brother's lifetime. 

I remember so well his speech at Leeds. ". . . The greatest 
composer in the world to-day, the most exquisite and the 
most precious mind in music this country has ever produced 
— and for the last fifty years any country has produced — is 
an Englishman. He is Frederick Delius." On another occa- 
sion he gave the opinion that Delius was the greatest musi- 
cian England had borne since the death of Purcell. 

In under six months England had lost three of her greatest 
musicians: Sir Edward Elgar, from the shock of whose 
passing Fred never recovered, so my sister-in-law declared, 
and Hoist. In the tributes that were paid to my brother's 
memory this fact was referred to again and again. A sister 
will be forgiven, I hope, for making a selection of some of 
the opinions expressed by leading representatives of the art 
of music on my brother's genius. 

" I valued Delius's work very highly," the famous Dr. 
Richard Strauss declared when he heard the news. " His 
death is a profound loss to music, for his melody was a great 

262 



FREDERICK DELIUS 

gift to the world." Sir Landon Ronald, when he heard the 
news, was deeply moved. " Delius was a great man," he 
declared, " and it is a dreadful thing that we should have 
lost within a few months three such great composers as Elgar, 
Hoist, and Delius. It is nothing short of a tragedy for music 
in this country." Major Geoffrey Toye, Managing Director 
of Covent Garden Opera, also referred to his position in the 
hierarchy of composers. " I regarded him as probably the 
greatest composer in the last fifty years. He had an enormous 
influence on modern music." 

I cannot omit the tribute passed by Dr. Erchkleiber, con- 
ductor of the Berlin Municipal Opera House. " I am par- 
ticularly touched by this news, for just as I received it on the 
telephone I was studying the very beautiful Fourth Sym- 
phony of Delius. I have been studying all his works lately, 
because I am hoping to make him better known in Germany, 
but this symphony is perhaps his most mystical work, and it 
is strange that the news of his death should come to me just 
as I am working on it." 

From the New World came the opinion of Mr. Walter 
Damrosch, the famous German-American composer and 
conductor. " I consider this highly sensitive and poetic 
musician one of the best England ever produced, and I wish 
to express my keen admiration of his work." 

In the columns and columns that were written concerning 
him I came across one curious reference which had not been 
brought to my attention before. The story may be apo- 
cryphal, but it is quoted as genuine. " A gentle and kindly 
man, only once did he express himself with bitterness over 
his country's neglect of him. ' If I had written some sense- 
less, idiotic piece of music, which could have been used for 
jazz, I should not have been neglected. I feel it terribly that 

263 



FREDERICK DELIUS 

my compositions should not be known.' " No date is attached 
to this alleged pronouncement, and if Fred ever said any- 
thing of the kind it must have been in the very early days, 
for from 1907 onwards the public recognition of his composi- 
tions proceeded crescendo, culminating at last in the famous 
Festival of 1929 — a demonstration of appreciation which 
has been accorded to no other composer in our time. 

There were many long and learned articles on my brother 
in the dailies and weeklies in those June days of 1934 which 
followed his death, but the one which interested me most 
appeared in quite an obscure paper. It was written by Mr. 
A. T. Akeroyd, General Secretary to the Wharfedale Musical 
Festival. I reproduce an extract from it, because it strikes a 
note upon which I myself have insisted throughout these 
memories — that in spite of Fred's exile from the land of his 
birth, the influence of those early days, the effect of those 
first impressions, never left him. 

There is no doubt whatever but that the wide open spaces 
of Ilkley Moor, and the lovely woodlands in the surrounding 
country impressed the child mind of Delius, and left life-long 
impressions. This is proved by his intense love of the beauties 
of nature, which enabled him to capture and reproduce in his 
music not the merely sensuous elements of a landscape, with 
which impressionistic composers too often content themselves, 
but the correlative emotion it awakens in the sensitive soul, 
the state of mind, which in a metaphysical sense, it exists 
solely to express. 

One feels that all Delius's music is evolved out of the 
emotions of a past that was never fully realised at the time, 
emotions which only became real long after they had ceased to 
be experienced, in the early seventies and eighties. 

His vocal compositions show his intense love for poetry 
which was inspired by beautiful scenery, or by the impressive 

264 



FREDERICK DELIUS 

beauty of Nature in various forms. A fine example of this 
spirit is shown in his lovely four-part setting of Arthur 
Symons's poem, On Craig Dhu, which was sung at the 
Wharfedale Festival in 1930, and created a deep impression. 
The poem is as follows : 

The sky thro' the leaves of the bracken, tenderly pallidly blue, 

nothing but sky as I lie on the mountain top. 
Hark ! for the wind as it blew rustling the tufts of my bracken 

above me, brought from below 
Into the silence the sound of water. 
Hark ! for the oxen low, sheep are bleating, a dog barks, at a 

farm in the vale : 
Blue, thro' the bracken, softly enveloping, 
Silence, a veil. 

Many of us have actually experienced the above sensations 
on our own moors, and Delius's music brought home to us 
in the King's Hall happy memories of such happenings in the 
days gone by: both poet and musician realised the beauty of 
the silences, and the nature-sound beloved by all true wor- 
shippers of the great open spaces. 

Here I may touch upon a problem for which, so far, I have 
been able to find no solution. Everybody hoped, and every- 
body believed, in the West Riding, that after the temporary 
interment at Grez Fred's remains would be brought back 
to Bradford, there to rest in the heart of the city of which 
he was a Freeman, and where he had been born, close to 
those moors which he had loved so dearly. It is true that 
my sister-in-law, who was after all the only person entitled to 
make any decision, had never visited Yorkshire. A Serbian 
herself, she only knew the Fred who had made again and 
again the proud boast that he was a good European. I recog- 
nise that it would be hard for her to appreciate the link of 
memory that bound my brother to Bradford and its beautiful 
environment. If she thought of Bradford at all, she thought 

265 



FREDERICK DELIUS 

of it, I imagine, as the place where he had suffered as a child 
and a young man — from which he had escaped with diffi- 
culty to follow his artistic career. True, she had been gratified 
by the honour conferred upon him by the city, but beyond 
that Bradford must have remained for her a shadowy place, 
and she must have found it hard to understand Fred's passion 
for the moors. 

But even making all these allowances, I can express with- 
out offence what I know to be the feelings of so many York- 
shire people on the decision to have his remains reinterred 
in the south. It strikes me as remarkable. 

Let me make myself quite clear. I am not one of those 
who take much interest in the mortal coil, once it is shuffled 
off. My own husband, who died a few weeks before Fred, 
left instructions that he was to be cremated and his ashes 
scattered over the heather. I think this was a most sensible 
way of dealing with his remains, and to my mind this would 
have been an appropriate way of disposing of my brother's 
body. But why he should be buried in the south, with 
which he had no association whatsoever, still leaves me 
bewildered. 

From time to time there appeared in the Press state- 
ments to the effect that his remains were to be reinterred 
in various places. Then these contradictory rumours were 
dispelled by the definite announcement that the reinterment 
was to take place at St. Peter's Churchyard, Limpsfield, on 
May 24th, 1935. I knew nothing about Limpsfield except that 
it lies under a picturesque Surrey common, and that it was 
the home of some very great friends of my sister-in-law. 
"The place has been selected in conformity with Fred's 
wish" — I am quoting the newspaper reports — "that he should 
be carried back to England to a churchyard that is very old." 

266 



FREDERICK DELIUS 

If the oldness of the churchyard was the only test, we can 
find quite as many as old, and older, in the West Riding. 
True, Bradford has little antiquarian interest, but in the 
Dales, on its threshold, there are some of the loveliest church- 
yards in the country. 

Ilkley had many associations for Fred. It was in the heart 
of the moorland where he had caught his first impressions of 
music, and I believe I am right in saying that while portions 
of the existing parish church only date back to the times of 
King John, the site has been occupied successively and alter- 
nately by heathen altar and Christian temple since the days 
of the Emperor Agricola, who conquered this part of 
England. I question whether Limpsfield Church can show 
a history of eighteen hundred years. Further, Fred had spent 
many a holiday in Ilkley in his boyhood, for it was the 
favourite resort of the family when my father thought we 
required a change of air, and it is only some fourteen miles 
from the city of which he was a Freeman. 

It is a personal matter this business of disposing of re- 
mains. Graves happen to have no sentimental appeal for me. 
I only refer to the matter here because I know that my sister- 
in-law's decision caused a good deal of feeling in the West 
Riding, especially in Bradford, where my brother's memory 
was kept in reverence. 

The news of my brother's death came as a shock to his 
birthplace. As soon as it was announced, the Lord Mayor 
took steps to express officially the feelings of the citizens. 
A meeting of the Council was held as soon as possible, and 
on the proposal of Captain A. W. Brown, M.B.E., J.P., the 
Lord Mayor, the following resolution was passed : " That this 
Council places on record its deep sense of the loss sustained 
by the nation through the death of Mr. Frederick Delius, 

267 



FREDERICK DELIUS 

C.H., an Honorary Freeman of the City of Bradford, and 
expresses its sincere condolence with Mrs. Delius in her 
bereavement." It was further agreed at the meeting that if 
arrangements could be made, representatives of the Council, 
including the Lord Mayor, should attend the funeral. The 
reply was received from Mr. Eric Fenby, stating " Funeral 
England later on." 

For a time in Bradford this was thought to mean that my 
brother's body, after the usual lying-in-state had been con- 
cluded, would be brought to England for interment in his 
native land. It was believed by some, indeed, that the funeral 
would take place in Bradford. It was not until Wednesday 
the 13th that it was fully realised what arrangements had 
been concluded. The first interment had at that time already 
taken place the day before. The ceremony was performed 
late in the afternoon, and, in accordance with the wishes of 
my sister-in-law, was a very simple one. The Prefect of the 
Seine et Marne, as a gesture of recognition, which would 
unite the regrets of France with those of Great Britain, sent 
his private secretary to represent him. Many people were 
puzzled to know the meaning of the minute bell that was 
tolled at seven o'clock on the day of this first interment. 

Still anxious to do honour to the remains of my brother, 
the Town Council addressed the following letter to Mr. Eric 
Fenby through Mr. Fleming, the Town Clerk, on Thursday, 
June 14th: 

Dear Mr. Fenby, — I am desired by the Lord Mayor to thank 
you for your telegram of the fourth instant, informing him 
that the funeral of the late Mr. Frederick Delius will take 
place in England later on. 

It was unfortunately impossible for the Lord Mayor to 
attend the funeral on Tuesday last, because he did not know 

268 



FREDERICK DELIUS 

until late on Monday night that the funeral was to take place 
on Tuesday. 

The City Council met on Tuesday and passed a Resolution 
of sympathy with Mrs. Delius, and arrangements are being 
made for a wreath to be sent to Grez-sur-Loing on behalf of 
the Lord Mayor and citizens of Bradford. It was felt that it 
would be appropriate for a wreath made from heather, ling 
and other plants growing on the Yorkshire moors to be sent 
from Bradford, Mr. Delius's native city, to be placed on his 
grave in France. This wreath is now being made and the 
Lord Mayor, who is anxious to do everything that can be done 
on behalf of the citizens of Bradford to show respect to the 
memory of one who has achieved fame in the world of music, 
and whose name is inscribed on the Bradford Roll of Honor- 
ary Freemen, is prepared and willing to cross to France on 
Saturday, the twenty-third of June, in which case he would be 
able to attend on Sunday, twenty-fourth June, at Grez-sur- 
Loing, for the purpose of laying the wreath in the name of the 
citizens of Bradford on the grave of Mr. Delius. The Lord 
Mayor will be glad to know if this arrangement will be wel- 
come to Mrs. Delius, and, if so, whether some simple ceremony 
could be arranged suitable for the occasion, or would Mrs. 
Delius prefer that the wreath should be sent to France to be 
laid on the temporary grave of Mr. Delius by someone resid- 
ing in the vicinity. If the latter course is preferred by Mrs. 
Delius, will you kindly inform me what the arrangements 
would be. 

A reply to this letter was received by the Town Clerk on 
June 18 th: 

Dear Sir: 

Mrs. Frederick Delius wishes me to thank the Lord Mayor 
and City Council of Bradford for their very kind expression of 
sympathy in her sad loss, and I am to say that she is greatly 
touched by their thoughtfulness and wish to send so ap- 

269 



FREDERICK DELIUS 

propriate a wreath to lie on his grave here. Owing to her 
serious illness she would prefer the wreath to be sent to Grez, 
so that I, who am a Yorkshireman, might lay it on the tem- 
porary grave in the name of the citizens of Bradford. The 
Mayor will be informed of the date and place of the funeral 
in England in due course. 

Yours faithfully, 

Eric Fenby. 

This very beautiful wreath was composed of partly flower- 
ing heather, provided by Mr. Robinson Bower of Glenthorne, 
Eldwick, who makes a hobby of growing rather unusual 
garden plants, and the remainder was gathered on Baildon 
Moor. The wreath, which was displayed outside the Town 
Hall for the whole of Friday, June 22nd, prior to its dispatch 
to France, bore the inscription : 

IN MEMORY OF A GREAT MUSICIAN 

FREDERICK DELIUS, C.H., 

An Honorary Freeman of the 

City of Bradford. 

From the Lord Mayor and 

Citizens of Bradford. 

With a feeling of mournful pride I made a visit to the 
Town Hall to inspect this very beautiful and appropriate 
remembrance of my brother. The ceremony was concluded 
on the 27th, when the Lord Mayor received a telegram from 
Mr. Eric Fenby. " Have just laid your lovely wreath on 
Delius's" grave. Mrs. Delius greatly moved sends heartfelt 
thanks." 

Those early months of 1934 had been for me a very trying 
ordeal. My daughter Margaret had been very seriously ill, 
and for a time it was feared she would not recover. My hus- 
band had been an invalid for three years, and for a long 
period I lived in the expectation that I would lose both of 

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FREDERICK DELIUS 

them. My husband did, in fact, die on the 24th of April. 
My daughter, however, fortunately made a wonderful re- 
covery. She was just completing her convalescence when 
to these domestic troubles was added my anxiety about Fred. 
I had had no news of him, beyond what my daughter had 
brought back from France just before her serious illness. I 
had written again and again to inquire, but my letters re- 
mained unanswered. This I now know was accounted for by 
the fact that my sister-in-law was herself seriously ill. 

On June 10th, 1934, 1 had been to church with my dauglv 
ter. Hardly had we returned to the house after the service 
when the bell rang. A friend who lived near by had called. 
" I am afraid," he exclaimed, " that I have some bad news 
for you. They have rung me up from one of the papers to 
say that the news has just reached them that Frederick Delius 
is dead, and they asked me to break it to you so that you 
would not get too great a shock when you saw the morning 
papers." Although I was deeply touched by this kindly and 
sympathetic thought for me, I was profoundly upset by the 
news. 

I had always hoped to be able to see Fred again, hoping 
to clear away all the misunderstandings which had marred 
our relations. However, it was not to be, and I comfort my- 
self with the thought that now he knows that I never faltered 
in my love and loyalty to him. Beyond wiring to Jelka, 
offering to come over to Grez if we could be of any" service 
to her, there was nothing we could do but wait for the details 
which we knew would appear in the morrow's papers. 

I can never forget the kindness we received from so many 
people in Bradford and the West Riding, the majority of 
them complete strangers to us, or the sympathy that was 
extended to us. Telegrams and letters poured in upon us, all 

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FREDERICK DELIUS 

expressing admiration for my brother's genius, and deploring 
the loss to the world of art which his death had caused. Bit- 
terly grieved though I was, I confess that I took a mournful 
pride in this universal recognition of my brother's eminence 
as a composer. The Lord Mayor and the Lady Mayoress 
came to pay us an official visit of sympathy on behalf of the 
city. 

Later there was an impressive and touching memorial 
service at the German Church in Bradford, where there are 
several stained-glass windows commemorating members of 
the Delius family, at which the Lord and Lady Mayoress 
attended. The service was conducted by the Reverend W. 
Hanson, who gave a very moving address, during which he 
pointed at the windows, put in by Daniel and Rudolph 
Delius, and said in ringing tones, " Delius is not dead. He 
will live for ever in our hearts by the virtue of his glorious 
music." 

The Lord Mayor told me that the city was very anxious 
to give Fred a full civic funeral, and asked me if I could tell 
him when and where the funeral was to be. Unfortunately 
I had had no private word from Grez, on account of my 
sister-in-law's illness, and so was unable to supply him with 
the required information. As the world knows now, his 
remains were not to be brought back to Bradford, and no 
service with civic honours was to be held in the cathedral 
there over his coffin. His dust is to lie in a spot with which 
he had no association, far away from the city of his birth 
and the people for whom he always cherished an affectionate 
remembrance. 

Immediately after my brother's death the proposal was 
revived to purchase our old home at Claremont and turn 
it into a kind of museum, in which articles of interest con- 

272 



FREDERICK DELIUS 

nected with Fred should be open to the inspection of the 
public. Major Harold Behrens took an active part in this 
movement. The musical societies of Bradford, not being 
financially very well off, could do nothing in the matter, 
except to give their blessing to the proposal, and Major 
Behrens, therefore, approached the Lord Mayor with the sug- 
gestion that he might appeal to the public to raise a suffi- 
cient sum for the object. The matter was long under 
consideration, but nothing was done. I think it is quite 
possible that the project might have been carried through 
had not the announcement appeared in the Press that my 
brother's remains were to lie for their last resting-place in 
some village churchyard in the south of England, and not 
among the people where he was born. 

But what does it matter? The locality of a grave signifies 
little. The most high-sounding memorials become so soon 
merely objects for the curious. Fred after all had left behind 
him his works, which will last. 

I shall always think of Fred as standing out against the 
vivid background of the Yorkshire moors. Lately I revisited 
Skipton Castle, the old home of the Lords of Clifford, West- 
morland and Vesci, who established themselves there in the 
fourteenth century. There was brought back to my mind 
how, when I lived at Stone Gappe, I had driven Fred over to 
see the place. We had stood then in the courtyard of rose- 
coloured sandstone, with its centuries-old yew tree and its 
square rainwater-pipes, each with its monogram of "A.P." 
commemorating Anne Pembroke, one of the famous old 
Cliffords. The years slipped back and I saw Fred now stand- 
ing there entranced, bending down and examining every- 
thing from all angles. I could hear his voice exclaiming about 
the staunchness and forthrightness of the people of those 

s 273 



FREDERICK DELIUS 

days, and regretting the fact that there was so little of that 
spirit left. 

There came back to me, too, how on the same day we had 
visited Wuthering Heights, and the wild moorlands around. 
How well Fred knew and felt their bleakness, strength and 
vitality, and how well he painted them in his music ! When- 
ever I play and sing Sonnenuntergang, one of his songs in 
the same series as Sing, Sing, nachtigall du, I can almost 
see the sun sinking in lonely splendour, the dying day 
crimsoning the sky and showing up the almost unearthly 
beauty of the Bronte country, which he loved so deeply, and 
spoke and thought of till his dying day. 

While these pages were in the press my sister-in-law, to 
whose devotion and loyalty to my brother I have tried to pay 
my tribute, passed away. In accompanying Fred's remains 
from Grez-sur-Loing for re-interment at Limpsfield on May 
26th, 1935, she contracted pneumonia. On the morning of 
Tuesday, May 28th, she died in a nursing-home. 

My brother was singularly fortunate in the friends he 
made, but never more fortunate than in the partner he 
selected for life. To Jelka, and to Jelka alone, he owed that 
atmosphere of serenity in which most of his best work was 
done. 

An artist herself of outstanding merit, she abandoned 
everything for the creation of those surroundings in which 
his genius could best flourish. She lived for him and his art, 
and there is something pathetically appropriate in the fact 
that when she had arranged for the transport of his remains 
to their last resting-place, she should slip away, the task she 
had undertaken in life completed. 

The ceremony of re-interment at Limpsfield was the occa- 

274 



FREDERICK DELIUS 

sion, not only for a remarkable demonstration by hundreds 
of admirers of Fred's music, who came from all over Great 
Britain to pay honour to his memory, but also for a remark- 
able speech by Sir Thomas Beecham. I cannot better 
conclude these memories of my brother than by quoting 
what he said. I have only one comment to make. 

Sir Thomas declares in the speech that follows that Fred 
hated the North — the hard, arid, business North. I, who at 
any rate was familiar with one side of my brother's mind, 
know that this is not a fact. It is true that he hated the days 
when my father, acting as he imagined for the best, en- 
deavoured to chain him down to the family warehouse. But 
he loved the people of the North — he never forgot their 
broad speech and used to employ it frequently — and he had 
a passion for the moors, which never left him, as is shown 
by the secret he confided to me that he was thinking of 
treating Wuthering Heights, to the pages of which I first 
introduced him, from a musical point of view. All the 
homely things of Yorkshire, too, he loved — the tea-cakes, 
the parkin, the bacon ! As I have related, he often asked me 
to send him parcels of these things from my home. I do not 
know why Sir Thomas made these attacks on the North, 
with which his own family has such a prosperous connection, 
or why he should have attempted to fasten upon Fred an 
antipathy which was the very reverse of his real feelings. 
My brother was a Yorkshireman, and one of the proudest 
moments of his life was when his native city conferred upon 
him the honour of its Freedom. To seek to rob Yorkshire 
of its claims upon his affections, in which he never faltered, 
compels me to make this protest. 

Standing by the grave where Jelka now lies by Fred's 
side, Sir Thomas Beecham, who has done more than any 

275 



FREDERICK DELIUS 

other living man to teach the world to appreciate my 
brother's music, used these words : 

It may have struck some of you as requiring a little ex- 
planation that Frederick Delius, who left this country as a 
very young man, a wanderer and almost an exile, has returned 
to it finally only yesterday. I think I am able to give you the 
explanation. 

Delius was born, some seventy-five years ago, in days which 
excited and provoked the rage of the sages of the time. 

He was born in a part of the world which was particularly 
odious to him. It was the arid North, the business, the hard 
North. He grew up a rebel and a dissentient. He strove to 
escape and he did escape — to a country which, in the opinion 
of everyone at that time, provided the fitting soil for the re- 
ception of his great gifts. 

He remained there for twenty or thirty years, knowing 
little of what was taking place in this country, and not 
bothering to inquire. War broke out, and something strange 
happened. To the astonishment of the world, this country 
turned its back on the idols of the market-place and the count- 
ing house, and embarked upon the greatest adventure of 
idealism the world has, perhaps, ever known. 

From that moment the eyes of this great musician turned 
inquiringly and wonderingly towards the shores of his native 
land. 

Also, in the meantime, another strange thing happened. 
His music, which I venture to say is extraordinarily redo- 
lent of the soil of this country and characteristic of the 
finer elements of the natonal spirit, became known. It had 
always been respected; it became loved and came to be under- 
stood. 

I am proud to say that the greatest respect and understand- 
ing of his works proceeds from the people of this land. It 
grows daily, and it shows no sign of diminishing. So far as it 
is possible to foresee, if there is any music that will remain 

276 



FREDERICK DELIUS 

honoured and immortal in the memory of the people of any 
one country, it is the music of this composer. 

The most precious part of this man is the immortal part — 
his spirit as revealed in his work ; and in whatever sphere that 
spirit is, I should like our greetings to pass beyond the confines 
of this earthly sphere, and let him know that we are here, not 
in a spirit of vain regret, but rather in a spirit of rejoicing that 
his work is with us and will remain with us for evermore. 



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Delius, Clare 
Frederick Delius 



c. 1 



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Delius, Clare 



c. 1 



Frederick Delius. c!935 



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BORROWER'S NAME 



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